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Thursday, 24 May 2012 17:23

Family of NJ Girl Battling Cancer Receives Donated Car from Britland Auto Body

Linda and Michael Downey’s 2002 car, at 250,000-plus miles, was on its last legs. They were about to plunk down at least another $600 for a brake repair when they heard some good news: they were eligible to receive a newer car for free.

The cash-strapped Somerville couple is delighted to get their new wheels—a remodeled 2007 Chevrolet Malibu donated by State Farm Insurance, Britland Auto Body in Green Brook, NJ, and a number of vendors that do business with the Route 22 shop.

But perhaps the biggest winner of this generosity is the Downey’s daughter, Charlotte. The 7-year-old girl has spent most of her life in the hospital struggling against a seemingly never-ending series of ailments: a heart defect, a kidney transplant, a brain tumor and now grueling chemotherapy for cancer.


Without a reliable car, the family worried about how they could make the 100-mile round-trip on a regular basis.

The parents, who also have a 10-year-old son, take turns spending the night with Charlotte at the hospital, which is where she and her father were that afternoon when Linda Downey and her sister Cori Peloso visited Britland to pick up the Malibu and visit with the people who made the gift possible.

“They just don’t have a lot of money to buy another car. The medical bills are astronomical,” Peloso said. Linda Downey works as a personal trainer while Michael, a Marine veteran, is a professional photographer.

Britland employees repaired the car during their spare time using supplies donated by vendors, including Joy Automotive Products and American Tire, both in Green Brook, LKQ Parts and Cosmo’s Auto Salvage in Bayville. Britland co-owner Edgar Chaves said the work on the car cost at least $6,500.

Jack’s Kids, a non-profit based at Somerville Elks Lodge 1068 that helps families of children with medical issues, selected the family for the car. The group also received a $500 check from Britland on Friday.

Chaves said the car will be the first of many donations by his shop.

“We want to keep doing things to give something to the community for people who need it,” he said.

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