It all started with a toy drive.
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was volunteering at a Houston holiday toy drive with his wife, Reagan, last month when in walked Caroline Bordelon, of Richmond, Bregman said.
The event was supposed to include a meal for all attendees, but Bordelon, who had taken an Uber there, was in a hurry to get back to Fort Bend County, she said.
Little did she know, but the volunteer who helped her carry presents back to the Uber was Reagan Bregman, Bordelon said.
“We were fortunate to meet an amazing human being in Caroline,” Alex Bregman said in a phone interview last week. “She’d had a really tough go of it recently, but the one thing she’d made sure to do was take an Uber across town to make sure her kids were taken care of during the holidays.”
A rough go of it might be an understatement. Bordelon, 39, a Zambia native who had been raised by an older sister ever since her parents died when she was young, had lost her car, apartment and full custody of her three children in the U.S. in 2021, said Darla Farmer, CEO of Sugar Land-based Hope for Three Autism Advocates – a group that works with Bordelon.
Bordelon’s older sister had also died recently, Farmer said.
The Fort Bend County woman’s story, combined with her dedication to her children, so moved the Bregmans that they decided to pull off a Christmas like no other for her. They helped set her up with a new car as well as a new apartment in Richmond.
“Alex texted me the day after the toy drive and said, ‘Darla, this is Alex Bregman, and I’d like to help Caroline,’” Farmer said.
The fact that someone who’d been through so much strife would still take time to get to a toy drive across town to make Christmas special for her children moved the Bregmans, Alex said.
“We were so moved by how amazing she is,” he said. “We wanted to see her smile and be happy. When she’s Uber-ing across town to make sure her children enjoyed Christmas, that meant the world to us. We saw a mom who was willing to go above and beyond for her children.”
This is where there’s some difference in the tale, depending on who’s telling it. In Farmer’s recollection, the Bregmans then proceeded to purchase a new car and secure an apartment for Bordelon.
"I'm telling you, it hasn't even sunk in for me yet," Bordelon said of the holiday surprise. "I almost feel like someone needs to wake me up. I get emotional every time I talk about it."
Bregman, meanwhile, is quick to thank a long list of people across the region for pooling resources to give Bordelon a Christmas to remember.
“So many people helped out with this,” he said. “Mattress Mack (Jim McIngvale) helped furnish her apartment fully, which was super nice of them, along with Gallery Furniture. Mark at Gulf Coast Ford in Angleton helped her with a car. My hitting coach, Jason Columbus, helped. And H-E-B has given her gift cards for groceries.”
Perhaps Bregman was drawn to Bordelon’s story in particular, because one of her children was diagnosed with autism – a condition that is near and dear to Bregman’s heart because his godson has autism, Bregman said.
In fact, Bregman’s nonprofit foundation, Bregman Cares, is meant to raise money for children and autism awareness across the country.
“It’s a passion of ours,” Bregman said. “And we’re only looking to get bigger and bigger. We have lofty goals for the coming year.”
Bregman hopes to soon raise money for needs assessments for students, and one day in several years to open a school for children with autism, he said.
Bordelon broke down in tears upon learning what Bregman and his foundation had done for her.
"You see things like this on TV," Bordelon said. "I've been in Fort Bend County for 10 years, and worked with all these entities. And I never thought it would happen to someone like me."