Transportation to her many medical appointments became especially difficult for 10-year-old Sofia Rubio of Riverside recently when her family’s car broke down beyond repair.
Rubio suffers from severe scleroderma, a rare disease that necessitates frequent medical treatments, hospitalizations and ongoing therapy.
To the rescue came a totally reconditioned 2008 Ford Edge, donated by Caliber Collision-Riverside Downtown and GEICO Insurance through the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program.
The program involves collision industry companies who repair and donate cars to families in need. The automobile was donated by GEICO to Caliber Collision, where technicians gave their personal time to refurbish the vehicle.
It represents the fourth time Caliber has partnered with a hospital foundation to provide a car to a family in need. Nationwide, Caliber has donated more than 80 Recycled Rides vehicles. The National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program is an example of the compassionate community in Riverside that joins together as a Unified City to support each other in times of need.
The car officially was donated at an unveiling ceremony April 20 at the Caliber Collision site in Riverside. The family was nominated by Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, where Sofia is an outpatient.
“The car has helped us tremendously, and it is amazing how God has worked everything out,” said Claudia Naranjo, Sofia’s mother.
She spoke by telephone through a translator, Toyia Greene, who is the family’s clinical social worker at the hospital’s rheumatology clinic.
The donated automobile, which serves as a second car for the family, has saved the family money on gas since it runs much more efficiently than the truck the family was driving before. Sofia’s two younger siblings are happy that they don’t have to wake up extra early to help take their father, Moises Rubio, to work, their mother said.
“They can also visit their godmother in Los Angeles now, too,” she added.
Greene’s job as a social worker involves helping the Rubio family with resources, referrals and networking.
“This is the first time we have been aware of the car donation program,” she said. “When our team was asked to nominate a family, the Rubios were the first ones we thought of.”
Dr. Wendy De La Peña, Sofia’s physician, submitted a letter detailing her condition and the family’s need for a car because of hardship and limited income and resources.
Sofia learned six years ago she had the rare and progressively debilitating disease.
Despite the severity of her illness and disability, Sofia has maintained a positive outlook and has fought to stay in school, winning annual awards for her academics, according to the doctor’s letter.
She is a fifth-grade student at Stone Avenue Elementary School in Jurupa Valley.
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