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Juan Manuel Vidales with the Chevrolet pickup he raffled to raise money for his cancer treatment. Juan Manuel Vidales with the Chevrolet pickup he raffled to raise money for his cancer treatment.

Story of cancer victim forced to sell his truck has a surprise ending

Many young people would have kept the prize, but 16-year-old Marco Polo gave it back

A Tabasco man who raffled off his beloved pickup truck to fund his cancer treatment was brought to tears after the winner returned the vehicle to him.

Juan Manuel Vidales, a 47-year-old resident of Huimanguillo, has stomach cancer and was struggling to pay for his treatment when he decided to raffle off his 2000 model Chevrolet pickup, which he bought last year and painstakingly restored over a period of eight months.

His daughter and sister helped him organize the raffle and, with the help of social media and word of mouth, they ended up selling a good number of tickets for 199 pesos (about US $10) each.

The ticket buyers were not just from Huimanguillo, a Tabasco municipality that borders Veracruz and Chiapas, but also Mexico’s north and even the United States, the newspaper El País reported. In addition to the pickup, two cash prizes of 20,000 and 10,000 pesos were also up for grabs.

The family of Marco Rodríguez, a Huimanguillo man, snapped up some 35 tickets and on Christmas Eve his youngest son found out he was the winner of the Chevrolet.

Sixteen-year-old Marco Polo and his father had already decided that if they won they would not keep the prize but rather return it to Vidales, a cell phone repairman who had to give up his job due to his cancer diagnosis.

A video filmed in Vidales’ garage shows him announcing Marco Polo as the winner and handing over the vehicle’s papers to him.

“I’m very happy to be alive to [be able to] hand over this prize,” said the stage 4 cancer sufferer, who was given just two months to live in June.

Just one minute after he received the vehicle’s papers, Marco Polo handed them back to Vidales and told him that he was returning the prize. Vidales immediately started crying before thanking the youth and his father for their generosity.

The video, whose target audience was people who bought tickets in the raffle, has gone viral on social media.

Vidales told El País in a telephone interview that he was overcome with joy when he saw that Marco Polo was “so happy, so satisfied” with his decision to give him the pickup as a “Christmas present.”  Many other young people would have kept the prize, he said.

Vidales said he had no plans to sell his pickup and that he now considered it his lucky charm. Selling the vehicle would be a last resort, he added.

Vidales has several chemotherapy sessions ahead of him in a Villahermosa hospital and there is a possibility that doctors will remove a tumor from his stomach, if such surgery is deemed viable.

“It depends on how [the tumor] behaves, cancer is very strange,” he said. “I want to keep living. That’s why I’m fighting.”

With reports from El País

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