Car owner, yacht chef receive South Florida generosity

(WSVN) - A woman was trying to earn money for her daughter’s kidney transplant. Another suffered one bad break after another. Then both their stories aired on Help Me Howard — and what many of you did will make you smile. It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When you drive into Cypress Grove, you notice the trees. Beautiful — till you come face to face with one.

Colette Burton, tree fell on car: “Got out of the car, I shut the door, took a few steps, and then the tree fell.”

The tree busted Colette’s windshield and damaged the top of her SUV. Since it was dead and rotten, legally the Cypress Grove complex had to repair Colette’s car.

They refused.

Colette Burton: “The assistant property manager told me they were not going to fix my car because it was not their responsibility. He then went on to say, ‘This is Cypress Grove. What do you expect?'”

And then things got worse. While Colette’s car was in the repair shop, she had to take care of her sick father. She missed two paychecks.

Colette Burton: “I’ve been surviving off of ramen noodles, ’cause I just don’t have it.”

With no money, she couldn’t pay the $1,000 insurance deductible to get her car out of the body shop, couldn’t make her car payment, and it was repossessed.

Colette Burton: “And every time I turn around, I am getting hit with something. Everything transpired due to the tree falling on my car. I’m, like, biting back the tears, because I feel like nobody understands.”

Fortunately, Colette was wrong. As our story aired, she opened a GoFundMe page — and found people did understand.

Colette Burton: “So many people sent so many beautiful words to me telling me keep my head up and wanting to help me as much as they could.”

Did they ever help! Colette was hoping to raise $3,500 dollars. The GoFundMe page raised $9,456.

Colette Burton: “There are still genuine people out there that actually have good hearts.”

That wasn’t all. A Help Me Howard viewer sent Colette $5,000. He wanted to remain anonymous.

Colette Burton: “He said, ‘I just want to make sure you are OK.'”

Better than OK. She was able to move to a nicer apartment complex and get a new car, hanks to the wonderful Help Me Howard viewers.

Colette Burton: “Because in my mind, I said, ‘Who am I for these people to want to help me?’ Like, it really made me cry. I really didn’t expect it, but I’m just really grateful.”

When we first heard from Daniela, she was steaming.

Daniela Lagoa: “He treated me as a slave, as a servant and worse than a dog.”

Daniela is a chef on yachts. She had taken a job cooking for a yacht owner and his family while they cruised the Caribbean.

Daniela Lagoa: “I love to cook.”

Daniela had planned to use the money from the job to fly to New Orleans to save her daughter’s life.

Daniela Lagoa: “I have a 27-year-old daughter that has a kidney failure. We’re a match, and now I need to give her one of my kidneys.”

But the yacht owner never paid Daniela the $1,500 he owed her.

Our story aired. Again, wow.

Daniela Lagoa: “Wow!”

First up, a South Florida company called Amicus came to see Daniela.

Tania A. Sanchez, Amicus Medical Group: “We’re here to present you with a $3,500 check.”

Daniela Lagoa: “Thank you so much.”

Tania A. Sanchez: “This is a gift for you and, obviously, for your daughter.”

A woman sent Daniela a check for $5,000. She told Daniela she wanted to remain anonymous.

Daniela Lagoa: “It’s really overwhelming.”

After two attorneys saw Daniela on Help Me Howard, they offered to go after the yacht owner. He immediately paid Daniela the $1,500.

Tania A. Sanchez: “Here’s the real check.”

And Amicus wasn’t through, telling Daniela to let them know when she returns from the kidney transplant.

Tania A. Sanchez: “When you come back and you feel better, you are going to become an Amicus chef. You’re going to teach our seniors how to cook, and me how to cook, because I don’t know how to cook.”

Generous South Floridians gave a mother the money to save her daughter.

Daniela Lagoa: “I am very surprised, I am very touched, and I am very thankful, very grateful for Channel 7 and for Amicus.”

Glad to see Daniela and Colette were so happy. Now, sometimes when I say South Florida is full of wonderful people, they look at me and go, “Are you losing it?” But it’s true, and we’re lucky enough to see the generosity all year long.

Fallen on hard times after a problem uprooted your life? Ready to branch out for some help. Dock with us, and let us sail in a cook up a solution.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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