Dec. 22, 2017
ORLANDO – For LaToya Pugh and her family, 2017 was a year filled with extraordinary accomplishments, joy and surprises.
Some might even say that 2017 delivered a brand new life to Pugh, which was made possible because of her hard work, faith and a never-give-up attitude.
There are brighter days ahead for the 34-year-old Orlando native, and the transformations have already started to boost the entire family’s spirits.
With assistance from the Orlando Magic and Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic, Pugh and her two daughters moved into their new Habitat for Humanity home earlier this month. Pugh’s prior home was broken into twice, prompting the uphill climb that followed.
When she was handed the keys to her new residence, which is in the same neighborhood where she was born and raised and where her mother still lives, Pugh was given tickets to the Magic’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Unaware that was just the first phase of the surprise, the Pughs were astonished to learn there was much more ahead. On Friday night after riding in a limo to the Amway Center, eating dinner in the Fields Ultimate Lounge and watching their favorite team play from courtside seats, Pugh and her children were honored during a special halftime presentation for being the Magic’s “family of the night.”
It was then that the next ‘big’ revelation occurred. As part of the Magic’s annual holiday “Big Give” celebration, the Pughs were showered with gifts, including toys, games, home goods, and a TV. They were also provided the following from several of the Magic’s corporate partners:
- Corckcicle: $500 gift card
- Tijuana Flats: Gift basket & $100 gift card
- Talk of the Town: $500 restaurant gift cards
- PepsiCo.: Free product for an entire year
- Papa John’s: Free pizza
- Amway: Multivitamins, skincare and cleaning products
- Jewett Orthopaedic: $5,000 check
“I’m still shaking right now, this is very unexpected,” said Pugh, with tears of joy pouring down her face. “I’m so grateful. It’s been a long road but we made it. It’s love out here. It’s a community out here that loves one another.”
“It’s emotional. It’s an experience I will never forget. I just want to thank the Orlando Magic, Jewett, Habitat and everybody (that helped make this night happen).”
More motivated than ever, Pugh will now continue chasing her dreams and doing whatever it takes to provide a better life for her kids.
Pugh’s long term educational goal is to return to school and someday become a paramedic. Excited about her new path and encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by her daughters at home and in the classroom, Pugh is looking forward to the next phase of her remarkable journey.
“I’m grateful for our new start in life,” she said. “Through strength and faith and from being a little girl to a grown woman now, it’s just so life-changing right now.”
By Josh Cohen