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Holland College journalism student overcomes loss of his mother to opiate abuse

Calgary businessman and “Earn a Car” creator Lou MacEachern hands the keys to a 2017 Nissan Micra to journalism student Tony Davis at Holland College recently.
Calgary businessman and “Earn a Car” creator Lou MacEachern hands the keys to a 2017 Nissan Micra to journalism student Tony Davis at Holland College recently. - Submitted

By Kai Vere The Guardian

Tony Davis came home to his girlfriend after his first day at Holland College with a flyer in his hands.

He put the flyer down on the table in front of her.

On the flyer was a 2017 Nissan Micra with the words, “Earn a car” written on the piece of paper.

Davis pointed at it.

“I’m going to win that this year,” he said.

That was almost a year ago.

On Thursday, Davis got the keys to his new car.

Along with five other finalists, he was at the Florence Simmons Performance Hall in Charlottetown where he met Lou MacEachern, who started the “Earn a Car” contest to help encourage students to strive for their best at school and work.

Each year, faculty nominates students considering several factors including outstanding academic achievement, work ethic, perseverance and character.

Davis was nominated, then went through an interview process, then made it into the final five and was finally awarded first prize.

Winning that brand-new Nissan was one of the best things that ever happened to him, he said.

“It makes me really happy and proud,” said Davis. “It’s not even winning the car, it’s just the fact my name was even on this list, and that somebody noticed how hard I was working.”

Davis accomplished a lot this year, but it hasn’t been an easy road.

In mid-June last year, he lost his mother to opiate abuse. She had used a dirty needle, and died in intensive care in Halifax when an infection got into her heart valve.

“When I went through what I did with my mother, I did a lot of stuff on my own. Arranging her funeral, making sure it was paid for through social assistance. I just felt like I’d been taking on the world for a long time.”

He also struggled financially this year, he said.

“I have holes in my pants, and I can’t afford to buy new pants.”

Davis is considering selling the $15,000 car.

“My mom’s still lying in an unmarked grave. I never engraved the gravestone yet, I can’t afford it.”

Soon he will be able to, he said.

“I can give myself some closure. I can carry on with life.”

Davis has a lot of people to thank for his accomplishments, he said, but he began to tear up when he thought about one person in particular that got him through the year.

It was his fiancé, Jess Ford, he said.

“She was there when I’ve been at my worst, when I’ve been broke, when my mom was dying,” he said.

“It’s those people that stand by you that get you through it.”

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