Ciara Gordon stands beside the new car she received as a gift.
On Christmas Eve, a group of people gathered outside an apartment in Price waiting patiently for the moment to arrive. A special gathering among family members and friends to give one young person an early Christmas gift. It was a moment one person won't soon forget.
When Ciara Gordon stepped outside into the parking lot on a sun filled day in Price, a white 2003 Cadillac DeVille adorned with a red ribbon was sitting there waiting for her arrival. It was a gift from Basso GM employees, who had contributed part of their pay during the year to make a difference in someone's life at Christmas. She didn't expect it to happen, but when it did, she was speechless.
"I was so excited about it I cried," said the 19-year old Price resident.
The gift of receiving a car is a long ways away from the tragedy she and her family suffered through just a few months earlier; one Gordon carries with her each and every day.
As a student at the Lighthouse High School, Ciara came across a fellow student named Cassidy McCourt. In him, Gordon saw someone who she was quickly drawn towards.
"He was this big and tall person who had pretty eyes and a nice smile," she said of McCourt. "He was really funny and a little goofy too." The two were immediately drawn toward one another and soon began a relationship together. Over a four-year period they spent plenty of time with each other and soon received some information that would change their lives forever. In 2009, Gordon and McCourt found out they would soon become parents. But six months into the pregnancy, the couple heard some interesting news: They would be having twins.
"It freaked us out at first hearing we were going to be having twins," she said.
On May 20, 2010, Gordon and McCourt became the parents to twin girls, Ashtan and HarleyRae. The couple was quickly thrust into the world of being parents when the twins were born premature.
When they were finally able to bring the babies home, HarleyRae began to have seizures just days after being home. HarleyRae was taken to Utah Valley Hospital and later to Primary Children's Hospital for a period of three weeks. The seizures HarleyRae had were due to spinal meningitis while she was in the hospital, Gordon said. HarleyRae suffered brain damage which caused her to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Despite the ordeal, Gordon said the twins have done well. Harley will soon need eye surgery due to remove a cyst as well as receiving some Botox injections to help alleviate some of the pressure off her muscles.
With all of the work as a mother taking care of twins, Gordon said she couldn't see things being any different.
"I love taking care of both Ashtan and HarleyRae," she said. "With HarleyRae, I try to treat her like a piece of glass. I always want to keep her in pristine condition."
It's not something that a person can really prepare for. As a couple taking care of a pair of months-old twin girls, it was probably the furthest thing from Gordon's mind.
On Oct. 29, 2011, McCourt was driving his pickup along Old Wellington Road when he either lost control or drifted off the road, rolling the vehicle, according to police. McCourt, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle, sustaining critical injuries. He was transported by helicopter to a Utah County hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
"It's been really hard for all of us," said Gordon. "We miss having him with us every day."
But each day, Gordon says she sees some reminder of McCourt in the twins. Ashtan's little smile shows some semblance to McCourt's smile as well as her little blue eyes and long eyebrows.
"Ashtan wants her way all of the time just like her dad," Gordon laughed. "With HarleyRae, she looks just like her dad."
Gordon said she didn't know exactly what was going on, but was told to be outside for what she thought was going to be some family photos. She knew her family had nominated her for the car giveaway but didn't think she would be the one receiving the car.
Standing in her apartment, she could faintly hear her name being called by people standing outside. As she stepped outside, she saw the white Cadillac with a giant red ribbon on the roof sitting in the parking lot and was immediately overcome with emotions.
"She just started crying immediately when she saw all of us standing outside next to the car," said Lara Justesen, Gordon's mother. "I started crying too. I couldn't contain myself. This means so much to her."
Gordon said she was surprised with how many people showed up, knowing she was getting the car. Those who were in attendance saw Gordon take her first ride in her new car, a ride she will always remember.
"When I drove the car around for the first time, I was crying the whole time," she said.
While her twin daughters will always hold a special place in her heart and are considered to be the greatest gift in her life, receiving the car will always be something Gordon can look back at and smile.
"The car is right under my kids as one of the best presents I've ever received in my life," she said.
Tony Basso GM, like many other businesses in Carbon County, wanted to help give back to the community. The dealership began promoting a special Christmas giveaway as employees at the dealership donated a portion of their paychecks throughout the month of December to help buy a car for a local family in need. An email address was set up to receive nominations asking for information as to why a person or family was being nominated and why they were in need of a car.
Justesen said she along with many family members and friends sent in emails nominating Gordon to receive the car. Among the reasons she listed in the email, Justesen included information describing the difficulty of Gordon not having a reliable car. Her previous car, a Pontiac Sunfire, was a two-door coupe making it very difficult to get the twins in and out of their seats every time she takes a trip. Add to that the fact the car was very unreliable and was in a constant need of repair.
"Her old car needed a lot of repairs and was not very reliable," Justesen said. "Now with the new car, she's (Gordon) just on cloud nine. She's very thankful to everyone."
The new car will help Gordon in taking HarleyRae to doctor appointments in Salt Lake City at Primary Children's Hospital and the Cerebral Palsy Clinic about every other month.
The full-time mother of now 19 month old twins said she hopes to one day go to college with a goal of working towards helping to take care of handicapped children in the future. For now, Gordon is happy with taking care of the twins and the joy they bring each and every day.
"I just love being a mother to my girls," she said.