Getting your first car is a rite of passage, and having your parents gift you a car is even better. For a parent, being able to do something like that for your child, on the occasion of a major milestone like their 16th birthday, is pretty special too. Little did one dad know how special his purchase would turn out to be.
Kevin Duke couldn’t wait to give his daughter her first car when she turned 16. He purchased a used Ford Fusion and did due diligence, expecting every inch and giving it multiple test drives to make sure it was safe before he dared let his little girl get behind the wheel.
After he bought it, he stumbled upon something he had somehow missed.
“Well, yesterday I’m in it tinkering around and I open this storage compartment on top of the dash (which I’ve opened a half dozen times already),” he said. “This time I notice a rubber mat in the bottom of it and for whatever reason, I pull it out.”
What he found was an envelope addressed to the “new car owner” which said, “important info inside.” When he read the letter, he was stunned. It was from the previous owner’s child.
“This car holds a lot of special memories for me,” it said. “My home and everything in it is gone, this car is all that I had left to touch…To the person that gets this car, I just wanted to let you know what a special vehicle you’ve bought. This car belonged to my mom. She passed away.”
It turns out that the person who wrote the letter was Sabrina Archey, and she had suffered a tragedy when she lost her mom, her aunt, and her 6-year-old daughter Jensyn in a house fire in February 2015. Her community rallied around her, holding events in her family’s memory and helping raise awareness of the need for smoke detectors. But the cost of three funerals forced Sabrina to sell her mom’s Ford Fusion, and now it belonged to Kevin Duke and his daughter.
“I know it’s just a car to you, but to me it’s so much more,” Sabrina’s letter read. “So now that it’s yours, please remember it isn’t just a car. It’s a memory. This car with all its quirks is the last piece of my family. Be nice to it.”
She wrote that the car was named “Sylvia” after a favorite song that was connected with it, and she wished the new owner luck with the car. But she also hoped she might one day get it back. “I just paid for 3 funerals, I can’t afford to buy it right now, but hopefully, I’ll be in a better financial situation if you decide later that she’s just not right for you anymore.”
Kevin knew what he had to do, and when he told Jada, she agreed. Eventually, they were able to located Sabrina via social media and work out a deal to return her car, complete with a fundraiser and help from an Australian TV show!
“I feel really blessed,” she said.