Few of us are lucky enough to win a new car, and even fewer would be willing to give that car away, yet that’s exactly what 18-year-old Jessica Faasavalu did for her best friend, Kennedee Black.


The high school senior in Woods Cross, Utah won a 2007 Mazda 3 in an essay writing contest through her school. Rather than keep the car, she gave it to Black, who she felt needed it more. Faasavalu dedicated her essay to discussing her friend’s needs, and the school surprised Black with the vehicle at a party.

Black didn’t have her own car for financial reasons, and was completely shocked by the gift.

“My family has never gone without, but obviously a car is harder,” Black, 18, tells Ellen’s Good News. “I’ve always had people willing to help me out. Jessica is amazing, and I’m so grateful for what she did for me. I’ve never had my own car.”

Specifically, Black has suffered various medical problems over the years that were tough on her parents' budget. Her father is unemployed due to a recent surgery, and her mother works booking reservations for the local Marriott and Ritz Carlton.

Black serves as a nurse’s assistant at a local nursing home, worked her way through high school, and will be paying for school over the next year to get her RN license. She says the car offers a big boost to her life and commitments.

“I don’t have words for it," she notes. "It’s helped me so much for the short time I’ve had it. I like to do things on my own, and it’s been hard to depend on people and ask them for rides.”

Since they were both 2 years old, Black and Faasavalu have been best friends, neighbors and peers. Black says they've had their tiffs over the years, but always remained close.

In Faasavalu’s essay, she describes Black’s struggles and her own willingness to pay it forward.

Faasavalu writes, “[Kennedee] has missed a lot of school because of medical reasons and work, but she has gone to her teachers and works hard to complete as much missing work as she can in order to keep her grades above failing. She has worked more than 30 hours, and sometimes more than 40 hours a week to help her mother support her brothers at home.

"I know that I might not win by telling Bountiful Mazda to not give me the car, but to give it to Kennedee. Kenn has been my friend for so long and she’s been through so much, that I feel like the least I can do is try to give her a chance at owning her own car to get her to her job, help her mom run errands or carpools, and have a little freedom for herself."

When Black read the essay, she says she was overwhelmed.

“Jessica has always been the example in my life,” Black comments.

Now that she’s mobile and moving forward at a greater pace, Black says she can continue pursuing her goals to help people as an ER nurse.

“With my health problems, I’ve had good and bad experiences, so I want to make a difference,” she explains. “I’m definitely a people person and I want to make that situation the best it can be.”

Photo: KSL News