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Gerald Lathrop, 20, sobbed Friday as he was handed the keys to a 2004 Chevy Malibu, donated by local businesses.
Bailey Bowman, 20, his girlfriend and mother of his 2-year-old son, was killed after she was picked up by the tornado as she ran for cover in the Lake Township police building Saturday. He was thrown into the brick wall of the township building and fell between two large boulders.
"I don't know what to tell anybody but thank you," he said through tears, after hugging every person who represented a sponsor of the gift. "It's amazing. Everybody. What everybody's done."
His grandparents, mother, sister, niece, nephew, and friends looked on.
"It was hard to keep it a secret," his mother, Bambi Lathrop, told him.
The vehicle is to replace the minivan that Mr. Lathrop and Ms. Bowman shared until it was destroyed in the storm.
"Yesterday when I was running him around, that was one of the big things he was worried about, having a car for the baby," his friend Tony Bridgman said. "It's amazing."
The used vehicle was purchased with donations from several businesses. The taxes, title, six months' worth of car insurance, and oil changes for one year were also paid for by donations, said Jake Bernard, finance director for Brown Automotive Group of West Toledo.
Contributing businesses include: Brown Automotive Group, Buckeye CableSystem, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cousino Harris Disaster Kleenup, and Perfect Site Property Maintenance. Buckeye CableSystem is owned by Block Communications Inc., The Blade's parent company.