Modesto Teacher Helps to Surprise Hardworking Student with New Car

MODESTO -- A Modesto teacher known for caring for her students in and out of the classroom did it again.

Lori Gaines has already donated a kidney to a student's parent in 2016. On Friday, she inspired others to help change another student's life.

Christian Esquivel is a senior at Joseph A. Gregori High School in Modesto and the hardworking teen has three jobs.

“I need money basically. I help out with rent,” he said.

He's also been saving for a car but little did he know he would soon get one.

His teacher noticed his effort and even presented him with an award for perseverance last month.

“It's exhausting being a full-time student, athlete and working. At this point, he has three jobs and yet he's always in school, he's always on time, he's never late,” Gaines said. “I have him first block and he's at my tutoring sessions every Tuesday and Thursday. He's determined to do well and he's more responsible than most adults I know.”

Gaines, who is well-known for going above and beyond for her students, learned Esquivel had been juggling school, sports, and work, all without a car.

“I said to my co-worker after school that I have to do something,” she said. “This kid has too many things going on in his life to not have a car. I want to find a way to get him a car.”

And that she did.

She set up a GoFundMe page with the hopes of raising $5,000 to buy Esquivel a nice, reliable used car. That goal was surpassed in just three days.

With the help of others in the community, an even bigger surprise was planned.

Phil Waterford, owner of Waterford’s Manteca Ford and Exotic High Line, took the surprise to the next level, surprising Esquivel with a brand new 2019 Ford Saturday.

“I still can’t believe that this is happening or that it happened,” Esquivel said.

Esquivel was all smiles and couldn't wait to hop in his brand new car.

“It will make it easier, especially on me,” he said. “And also my parents, to like relieve some more stress from them.”

With the help of another sponsor, Gaines was surprised with an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland with her family.

“Mrs. Gaines, she has always been caring not just to me but to all of her students,” Esquivel stated. “For her to start this it also took me by surprise but it's just the kind of person she is. I'm grateful for her, very grateful for her.”

Esquivel says he's already planning to give rides to all his friends and family who have helped him out.

The new car wasn't the teen's only surprise. He was also offered a paid internship at Waterford’s dealership, so Esquivel can cut back on some of his jobs.