Monday, 22 December 2014 16:00

Recycled Rides Vehicle Goes to Mother of Infant with Congenital Heart Disease in NE

When Diamond Shouse was five months pregnant, she found out that she was having a son. She also learned that the baby had a significant heart disease that would require a number of open heart surgeries throughout his life.

Leon was born at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln on June 5, 2014. He was immediately taken to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, where within a few weeks he underwent his first surgery. The shunt that was inserted in his heart to keep a valve open was a temporary fix, and the infant is facing what Shouse refers to as “the big fix” later this year or early next year. Leon will have another surgery when he’s between the ages of three and five, and there will be other operations as he grows older.

Shouse, who lives with her parents in Lincoln, previously borrowed her dad’s truck when she needed to take Leon to an appointment or run errands. A number of the appointments require her to drive to Children’s Hospital in Omaha to see specialists, and she will stay in Omaha when Leon has surgery.

On December 11, Shouse was presented with the keys to a 2006 Mercury Mariner at a luncheon in Omaha.

Shouse said it is a blessing to receive the vehicle.  “It puts me farther down the path to becoming independent.” Her three-to five-year plan was to stay with her parents so she could save up for a car and move out. “Now, the plan has changed in a good way,” she says.

Her goal is to one day have a career writing musical productions. She started taking general studies classes this summer at Southeast Community College, then took the fall off to care for Leon. Shouse plans to return to classes in January.

Before Leon was born, Shouse’s dream was to eventually attend Full Sail University in Florida to study music production. Now, she wants to find somewhere closer to home to continue her education following community college so that Leon’s grandparents will be close. Shouse writes music and plays the piano and violin. “I like any kind of music,” she said.

For now, Shouse is focused on Leon, who she describes as a happy baby, as she waits to hear when his next surgery will be scheduled. And she’s thankful for the gift of the Recycled Rides vehicle. “I am blessed. I am happy. I am so grateful,” she says. “It is going to really help me out.”

“Recycled Rides” is a community service program of the National Auto Body Council where body shops repair and donate recycled vehicles to families in need.

The Mercury Mariner, which had been totaled as a result of a collision, was donated by Farmers Insurance and was refurbished and repaired by CARSTAR Silver Hammer Body Shop, 4827 N. 90th Street in Omaha.

Greg Petersen, co-ower of CARSTAR Silver Hammer, stated body shops frequently see cars that are written-off or totaled by either the owner or the insurance company and sent to salvage yards.

“Many times all these vehicles need is some body work, mechanical repairs or TLC to get them road ready and safe to drive,“ Petersen said.   “We are grateful that Farmers Insurance generously donated a salvage car for our shop to repair.”

The Mariner had been in a minor collision and was in a local salvage yard.  The staff at CARSTAR Silver Hammer volunteered their time to repair this car.

“Repairing this car has been a labor of love.  Our staff worked hard to make the donation a reality,“ Petersen said.

“At Farmers, we’ve recognized that access to a safe and reliable vehicle is one of the most important resources a family needs to get back on their feet financially,” said Doris Dunn, Director of Community Relations for Farmers Insurance. “Over the years we’ve donated a number of restored vehicles to help families in need.”

Farmers Heartland claims office employees, agents and district managers also donated funds to purchase Shouse’s car insurance and other necessities.

Midwest Heart Connection sought nominations of families affected for congenital heart disease with a need for reliable transportation, and Shouse was selected as the recipient. Midwest Heart Connection is a non-profit organization that provides support for children and adults with congenital heart disease, promotes awareness of the disease, and raises funds for research, education and treatment.

“Midwest Heart Connection is thrilled to partner with CARSTAR  and Recycled Rides to provide Diamond and her family the transportation they need to travel easily and safely to the many medical appointments required by someone with congenital heart disease,” said Brain Luke, president of Midwest Heart Connection.

Petersen said many other businesses and organizations helped to make the gift possible.   Recycled and aftermarket parts were donated by LKQ Corporation and Keystone Automotive Industries.  Additional parts and services were donated by:  3B’s Towing, Absolute Auto Dent, Auto Tech, Auto Zone, Baxter Ford, Charity Cars, J.D. Casey Paint, National Auto Body Council, Nebraska Frame and Alignment and CARSTAR Silver Hammer technicians.