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WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 29, 2012, 10:31 PM

Fargo woman receives special Pay It Forward gift

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Snow packed roads and a late February storm could not stop a perfect Pay it Forward story today in Fargo. For the past few years, employees at State Bank of Fargo have chosen charities to share their donations. Today one woman who is battling heart disease, received a surprised gift of sharing, and learned a valuable lesson about the people of our community.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Snow packed roads and a late February storm could not stop a perfect Pay it Forward story today in Fargo. For the past few years, employees at State Bank of Fargo have chosen charities to share their donations.

Today one woman who is battling heart disease, received a surprised gift of sharing, and learned a valuable lesson about the people of our community.

Shawnda Westphal walked into the Hilton Garden Inn to a packed room of admirers. She is no stranger here; she works as a server at the Hilton Garden Inn, but today, her colleagues from the kitchen came to help honor her.

Shawnda Westphal – Recipient of Pay It Forward: “I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”

Shawnda suffers from heart disease that will likely lead to a transplant, but the single mom has been struggling financially. Doctor bills, medication and no transportation.

Sarah Bolton met Shawnda at a hair salon. She heard her story, paid for Shawnda's haircut, and the story snowballed from there.

Today State Bank presented Shawnda with a check as part of the Pay It Forward program, but more importantly, friends and coworkers worked together to also find a way for Shawnda to get to work and the doctor. Shawnda usually walks, even with a heart condition. Finally, a car for Shawnda. She was stunned, grateful, amazed.

Shawnda Westphal: “Saves me from walking miles and miles. It’s what I’ve been doing since my dad passed away. I’ve just been walking because I was borrowing his vehicle.”

Balloons filled with gift cards, cash and even car insurance topped off the day.

Richard Siegfried – Shawda’s Son: “It blows my mind, all of it is overwhelming. It’s cool, but at the same time it’s just overwhelming and unexpected.”

One woman’s medical journey today filled with strangers and friends alike who just made the daily battles a little easier to fight.

Shawnda Westphal: “Society is amazing. This is an amazing place to be and to live, and work and have family.”

Right now, Shawnda's heart is functioning at about 35%.

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