This is the story of a mother, a son, a car and a gift.
Michele Meldrum loves her life even though some might find it exhausting: Four kids, two jobs, long hours in her career as a respiratory therapist, and busy weekends around southeast Michigan. But earlier this year, Michele got news that put it all at risk: a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Growing up in Michigan, VW employee Joe Meldrum had always been surrounded by the automotive industry. But with no real plan to work in the business, looking back five years later, Joe’s happening into a career with Volkswagen was an unexpected blessing for multiple reasons.
“Never having been directly impacted by cancer before, you don’t understand what it means until it actually affects you. When my mom found out she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I immediately knew I wanted to do something for her,” he said. “She has forever been our family’s rock, and it was time to return the favor.”
Coincidentally, the #PinkBeetle was set to come to market soon thereafter, and Joe knew what he wanted to do. Over several weeks, Joe worked with his local dealership and VW colleagues to arrange for a VW #PinkBeetle to have a permanent parking spot in his mom’s driveway. He knew that car would make her smile every time she got in it.
Meanwhile, Michele continued her everyday life while undergoing chemotherapy. Her current 10-year-old vehicle, with over 250,000 miles, was getting her from point A to point B – until it wasn’t.
“I got a call from my sister who said mom’s car had broken down and that she was planning to go to the dealership to buy another one that weekend,” Joe recalled. “I frantically stalled like no other – telling her to wait until I got home to buy anything. She bought my story. At this point, we were only a week out from the surprise.”
The next weekend, Joe came home for a visit and the whole family got together for lunch at their favorite spot. On their way out, Joe told his mother he had a surprise for her.
“Across the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of the #PinkBeetle,” Michele says. “I remember saying, ‘You got me a car?’ and Joe just handed me the keys with a huge grin across his face.”
#PinkBeetle and his whole family (and pretty much everyone Michele knows) had been in on the surprise.
“This brand has supported me throughout my career, especially when my mom got sick, and I saw this as an opportunity to not only share the power of Volkswagen with my mom, but know that I could instantly make her happy each time she got behind the wheel,” Joe said.
“I love sitting in the car and just enjoying the ride. My car is not just a mode of transportation now – it is part of each day that is fun and just makes me happy,” says Michele. “Amid this horrible disease, so many blessings and so much support have come my way since that time, including the most generous and thoughtful gift I have ever received. I thank Joe every day when I get in my car to go to work.”