50 Frontline Heroes Gifted New Cars For Going Above & Beyond To Help During Pandemic: ‘Surreal’

50 frontline workers across America are driving home new cars this month, after they were nominated as heroes in the 2020 Mazda Heroes program.

Mazda, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, announced in October it was giving away fifty brand new MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition models, with each car destined for individuals who “tirelessly dedicated themselves to their communities throughout 2020” through “selfless acts, creative thinking and contributions to community.”

After receiving 1,000 inspiring nominations from across the nation which embody the car company’s value of “omotenashi”—putting other’s needs first—they selected 50 heroes, including three from New York City, who recently picked their new cars up at a dealership in Queens. (See video below.)

“This year has been full of challenges and we wanted to lean into our brand’s heritage of finding innovative ways to brighten people’s lives,” Mazda North America President Jeff Guyton said.

The selected Mazda Heroes selflessly leveraged personal skills and resources to care for those in need, from creating free grocery delivery services, to partnering with local restaurants to provide free meals to healthcare workers, to a musician who created curbside concerts for a senior community that had to remain indoors.

One of the winners, Jason Erdreich, used his skills as a shop teacher in Randoph, New Jersey, and his access to 3-D printers, to print 12,000 pieces of PPE for medical workers who were in dire need of equipment.

Triana Davis, a teacher in Byram, Mississippi created and hand-delivered custom curricula to her students and produced special commemorative t-shirts, goodie bags, and custom-engraved medals, after the pandemic cancelled graduation ceremonies.

An ICU nurse in The Woodlands, Texas, Christie Purviance worked grueling 15-hour days throughout the pandemic, yet always treating her patients like family. She delivered photos of patients’ family members who couldn’t visit, and helped facilitate video chats with loved ones—all while leaving daily sticky-notes of encouragement.

Another winner, Leandro de Araujo Pessoa of Lansing, Michigan lost his job after the lockdown hit in March, but he ended up using all his extra time to become the leader of a food pantry run by a local church. He devoted his time and a portion of his unemployment checks to the food pantry to keep it stocked with all the items necessary.

Mazda hopes that by acknowledging their achievements, these 50 heroes will feel empowered to continue to giving back to those around them.