'Biggest Blessing': Rydell gives free cars to a dozen abuse victims

For many clients of the Community Violence Intervention Center, the lack of a car prevents them from leaving a violent relationship, and if they do, self-sufficiency can be a challenge.

Angel on Wheels
Casey Torgerson wipes away tears of joy after sitting in her new car for the first time.
Matt Henson / WDAY News

GRAND FORKS — It was an early Christmas gift for a dozen women in Grand Forks on Monday, Dec. 19,.

It was a sight that left Casey Torgerson practically speechless: a used GMC Terrain, one of the "Angels on Wheels."

"It's going to allow me to have freedom again," said Torgerson. "I've got teenage kids that need to be to school and work and places, and I haven't been able to take them for months."

All the cars were free from Rydell thanks to a partnership with the Community Violence Intervention Center (CVIC).

Each car has a value of about $10,000, and has been fully inspected, repaired and detailed. Rydell also included a $500 gift card to put toward maintenance, and Safe Kids Grand Forks provided the families with proper car seats.


"They deal with some pretty challenging situations, and some people that are in some really difficult situations that need a lot more than just a vehicle," said Rydell general manager Ben Cahalan.

These cars and SUVS are not feel-good gifts. They are putting women like Nancy Escobedo into the driver's seat when it comes to safety.

She, along with her 7-year-old son who has mental disabilities, had just escaped a violent relationship.

"Having a reliable means of transportation means a lot, especially coming from a person like me who has been through what I have been through," said Escobedo.

The cars are a key part of building hope.

For many CVIC clients, the lack of a car prevents them from leaving a violent relationship. For those who do leave, the journey to self-sufficiency can be a bumpy road due to the lack of reliable transportation to keep a steady job and manage daily activities.

"There's a story to each one of us. To us it means something really important," said Escobedo.

Torgerson is thankful for the blessing that she says is beyond anything she could have imagined.


"This will make my life so much easier. I will take the best care of this car that I ever had," she said.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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