It was a pay-it-forward kinda thing

When Sharlene Clements heard thieves had stolen a car belonging to Denise Pearson and her son Reuben, who lives with cerebral palsy, Sharlene jumped straight to their aid. She immediately offered them a wheelchair-modified van that had been given to her business in a life-changing act of kindness.


I saw an article about Denise and her son in The Northern Advocate. They’d had their car stolen and it had been crashed. They only had third-party insurance, so they lost everything and the little boy was worried about how he’d get to school and to his activities. I just thought straight away about our van. We’d been gifted it ourselves for our respite-care and childhood-education centre by a lovely couple in Northland. It had been their son Brett’s van. He’d been confined to a wheelchair after he’d had a motorbike accident and a carer drove him and his chair around in it. He passed away sadly in April, and his parents wanted the van to go to someone who would use it for what it was intended for: to help people.

It didn’t quite suit us as we couldn’t find seats to go in the back, so it was being underused. When I saw Denise and Reuben’s story, I thought it was perfect so I got in touch with the person running a Givealittle page for them. I said, we don’t have money but we do have a vehicle they can have. It just felt like the right thing to do and they were so, so happy about it. Denise and Reuben came to pick it up and he was just so excited. He has a mobility trike and it fits perfectly in the back – he can ride right in there. All we asked was that they kept the name Brett’s Bus, in honour of Brett and they have. I’ve already seen them out and about in the van. Denise takes him to school in it every day and to all his activities.

It was a kind of pay-it-forward thing. We had been gifted it and we gifted it on. It certainly found the right home. If everyone showed a little kindness to someone else, every day, it would make such a difference. Being kind to someone makes them feel really good about their day. It boosts self-esteem and it makes you happy too.


When Reuben was born, doctors said he would never walk or talk but he proved them wrong. He’s a very determined, positive, patient young man. It was devastating when we had our car stolen. I thought, “What am I going to do now? How will I get Reuben around?” A vehicle is essential to our lives, but I’m a solo mum and I didn’t have any savings. The school started a Givealittle page for us to raise funds for a new car. The Northern Advocate saw it and did a story on us and that really boosted the donations. Then Sharlene contacted the school and they told me she wanted to give us a van. We were blown away. We went to meet her and she pretty much handed us the keys there and then.

Reuben was over the moon. He called it “our first campervan” and couldn’t believe it was really happening. It’s just super. We love it. We go everywhere in it: to school every day, the gym twice a week, and to the various sporting activities that Parafed Northland put on for disabled children. We’ve slept in it three times over the school holidays. Reuben’s mobility trike fits in there perfectly. That makes life a lot easier – it used to be quite difficult with the car. I got a bike rack but it was very hard to lift the trike up onto it as it’s so heavy.

Those silly people who stole my car did me a favour in the end. After all the trauma, something really wonderful came out of it. Reuben is doing very well. There’s a huge lack of kindness in the world, I find. When it does happen, it’s just such a blessing. We’ve kept in touch with Sharlene and soon I will be getting the money from the Givealittle page, about $5000, and I’ll be passing it on to her – for her respite-care business. I don’t need it for a car now. She deserves it; she’s incredible.