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Broomfield mom, with eight kids, gives back while battling cancer

Auto Nation's Drive Pink is helping her family
Posted at 5:49 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 21:23:06-05

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- Nothing rattles the Wittner family.

"One of the kids is having a meltdown," Gina Wittner said laughing. "We need your cute little face in this thing, we really do," she said while talking to her youngest grandchild.

With eight kids at home, their life is chaotic, but also efficient.

"Teamwork, this is going really fast," said Gina while filling bags for kids going through cancer. "That's what happens when you have so many people."

The Wittners are stuffing bags, with cars and markers, as a part of Auto Nation's Drive Pink.

The bags are going to children undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Brent's Place in Aurora, a long-term home away from home for kids and families battling cancer.

But there's more to this story than giving back this holiday season.

"It wasn't our retirement plan. I'm gonna have a teenage daughter until I'm 68-years-old," said dad Leon Wittner.

The Wittners only have two biological children.

"And five that we've officially adopted. We’ll be adopting one more," said Leon.

"I thought our house is big enough, and our income will support it, and somebody should do this … so we did," said Gina.

The reason they adopted the kids is even more heartwarming.

"They kind of lost everything. They did lose everything. They were split up into five different homes," Leon explained.

"Just wanted to keep them together so they could have life with each other," said Gina.

All six are now living together under one roof, and the family is paying it forward by stuffing bags for Drive Pink from Auto Nation, where Leon also works.

"Drive Pink has been our mantra and it's really more than just an advertising slogan," he said.

Leon has been a part of the effort for more than a decade.

"This year we gave $6,000 gift bags to cancer patients that were undergoing chemotherapy treatment," said Leon. "We also have donated — I think it's $22 million over the last 12 years to cancer-related causes."

A cause that is even closer to his heart this year.

"It was probably the hardest day of my life, February 25," said Leon.

"On Feb. 25th, I found out that I had Stage IV ovarian cancer," said Gina.

"I came into the room and the doctor told me and I thought ... 'Wait. You're in the wrong room. That's not possible," he said.

For the first time, the Wittners were rattled — by the diagnosis and six adopted kids now counting on them.

"We weren't sure what Gina's story was going to be," said Leon.

"I think the thought of losing another mom is probably not really easy on them," she said.

And that's when the support from Auto Nation came pouring in.

"There are folks that I have worked with, there are folks who have never met me, who gave up their Sunday. And a lot of these folks, Sunday is their only day off, to do oil changes for customers for donations," he said.

Gina is fighting her cancer and recently had her 20th chemo treatment.

"I've been feeling pretty healthy," she said. "I think they're pretty confident they can knock this back and give me some more years in my life."

"She had chemo yesterday and yet she's here doing it," said Leon.

Nothing was going to stop Gina from delivering gift bags to the kids fighting her fight in Aurora.

"Because that's who she is," he said.