When Dollena Colvin of Blue Island gets custom license plates for her new 2020 Chevrolet Sonic, they will say “Michelle” in honor of her daughter who died in a car crash in October.
Colvin was presented with the car Thursday morning by Chevrolet of Homewood owner Steve Phillipos and his staff at the sixth annual Homewood Chevy Cares car giveaway. In addition to the car, the dealership provided six months of insurance and paid the sales tax bill.
Colvin’s daughter, who was 32, and her son-in-law, Jeremy Stewart, 30, had borrowed her car to go to the laundromat. They died in a crash in Harvey, she said.
Following the crash, Colvin, who has 13 grandchildren, took in the couple’s four children, Raymond Bryant, Mikel Brooks, Ranielle Brooks and 8-month-old Prince Jeremy “P.J.” Stewart.
“I had to stop working to take care of her four kids,” she said. And without a car, she had to walk to the store and borrow a vehicle from family members to get the kids to school or to take Mikel to doctor appointments. He is in remission from brain cancer but his condition still requires monitoring, she said.
“You do what you have to do,” she said.
Phillipos said the annual contest attracted about 700 entries. The submissions were reviewed by dealership staff, who selected five finalists. The finalists each were featured in a video that gave them an opportunity to tell their story. Employees then chose a winner.
“These are beautiful people, and I know they believe in miracles,” Phillippos said. “We believe in miracles. Miracles do happen. We picked them as our new car winner.”
Colvin alternated between shouts of joy and tears of grief during the presentation.
“We just want to thank everybody who voted for us,” she said. “I especially want to thank my niece. And I want to thank God.”
Her niece, DeAnna Taylor of South Holland, nominated Colvin for the contest.
Colvin said the car would make a huge difference in her life and the lives of her grandchildren.
“It never brings your loved ones back, but this is just such a blessing,” she said.
Phillippos said the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt in this year’s contest.
“We had a lot more submissions. They’re all touching stories, so it’s very difficult for us to choose,” he said.
The festivities at the presentation had to be scaled back in consideration of pandemic safety measures. The crowd was smaller and the ceremony briefer than in years past, and everyone was required to wear masks.
“We kept it limited, but the heartfelt feeling is the same,” Phillipos said. “The people who won still deserve the congratulations.”