61°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Findlay Toyota assistant brightens showroom atmosphere

When Barbara Desrochers gave birth to her daughter Sept. 1, 1988, in Islip, New York, both mother and daughter were introduced to a unique challenge.

The baby was born with Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality which results in an intellectual developmental disability.

If the setback was supposed to hamper an individual who has the diagnosis, nobody told Michelle Desrochers. Now a member of the Findlay Toyota Business Development Center, where she is an assistant, she’s accomplished a lot in her life.

Michelle Desrochers’ educational achievements include earning a 4.0 grade-point average when she graduated from Coronado High School in 2007, along with a scholarship to the college of her choice.

She then attended Nevada State College from 2007-2009, where she completed the highest level offered in American Sign Language.

Now entrenched in the community, Michelle Desrochers was the first Best Buddy ambassador in Nevada. She’s a performance interpreter who has worked with Garth Brooks, The Jersey Boys, Matt Goss, Veronic and the Australian Bee Gees.

In addition, she was hired by Opportunity Village to train the staff in ASL for three campuses, in case a nonverbal client was facing a life-threatening situation.

After being hired by Findlay Toyota, Michelle Desrochers quickly attracted a following of both employees and customers at the dealership.

“I first met Michelle at Fox 5 when we were featuring Best Buddies on the Findlay Celebrity Spin Zone,” Findlay Automotive Group CFO Tyler Corder said. “She immediately gave me a big hug. She’s one of the most engaging people I’ve ever met. When we were on-air during the interview, she nearly had me in tears as she told how Best Buddies changed her life.”

Best Buddies was started by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989.

“People with IDD suffer from social isolation,” Barbara Desrochers explained. “Michelle’s best buddy has been Rachel Smith of KVVU Fox 5 News for the past 10 years. Michelle and Rachel have a great time together going to movies, having lunch out, getting manicures/pedicures or just hanging out.”

When Corder learned that Michelle Desrochers was looking for a job, he immediately introduced her to dealership General Manager John Barr, who hired her.

“She is our goodwill, feel-good ambassador,” Barr said. “A positive energy lights up the showroom and the hearts of everyone she encounters.”

Barbara Desrochers said her daughter is very outgoing and sees the best in everyone.

“I think it’s her personality,” said Barbara Desrochers, who wrote the book, “A Gift Called Michelle.” “She is fiercely competitive and strives for perfection.

“The fear of the unknown, having a child with Down syndrome, turned into our greatest blessing. Living with Michelle is seeing life through rose-colored glasses. As much as she learns from us, we have learned so much more from her about unconditional love. She is a mirror to what God’s love is to us.”

Michelle is now working hard to gain Best Buddy Champion of the Year honors. The Best Buddy Gala will be held Oct. 13 at The Mirage. Tickets can be purchased online at www.BestBuddiesChampion.org/Nevada.

Those wanting to donate to Michelle’s cause can do so at www.BestBuddiesChampion.org/Nevada/Supporting/#Michelle

The person who raises the most money for the organization will be crowned Champion of the Year.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Cadillac car show had best of everything at Town Square

The 14th annual Cadillac Through the Years car show at Town Square Las Vegas had 81 Cadillacs representing a record field of classic vehicles. In addition, a crowd of more than 8,000 attended the event, which was held April 28.

Findlay VW Henderson parts manager loves his job

Frank Mattos has worked as parts manager at Findlay Volkswagen Henderson for the past several years and is a Volkswagen enthusiast who has restored many classic VWs, including a classic black 1962 Beetle.

Jeep enthusiasts unite for annual Big Bad Jeep Show

This past weekend, Jeep owners across the Las Vegas Valley flocked to Chapman Warm Springs for the sixth annual Big Bad Jeep Show. The family-friendly event featured live entertainment, free food, face painting for children, raffle prizes from contributing vendors and a blood drive.

Findlay Customs turns battered ’76 Airstream into showpiece

Back in the 1930s, Airstream was the Cadillac of RV trailers. The thrill of owning an Airstream has continued with the renovation of a 1976 model purchased from Craigslist and refurbished by Findlay Customs in the Valley Automall.

Ram 1500 classic named truck bargain of the year

Looking for a new truck but don’t want the high payments? Chapman Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram offers the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic, recently named the truck bargain of the year by carbuzz.com, a multiplatform automotive news and car-buying source.

Senior wins top prize in iChoose to Drive competition

West Career and Technical Academy senior Briana Virella won the annual iChoose to Drive contest and was awarded a check for $2,000 from Findlay Automotive Group during a ceremony present on the campus March 29. The money will serve her well as she moves on to college next year.

Friendly Ford reaches 49-year business milestone

In early April 1970, the No. 1 song was “Let it Be” by The Beatles, a gallon of gas was 36 cents, Richard Nixon was president and Friendly Ford opened its doors to Southern Nevada on North Decatur Boulevard. A lot has happened since, but one thing has remained the same: Friendly Ford still believes in a strong dedication to customer satisfaction.

Chapman wrangles Jeep owners to compete in Big Bad Jeep Show April 27

When you purchase a Jeep, you don’t just get the opportunity to venture off the beaten path, you also join one of the most loyal and exclusive car communities on the road. Chapman Chrysler Jeep is inviting all Jeep owners across the valley to compete in the sixth annual Big Bad Jeep Show.