Retiree stops smoking with help from the Virgin Mary, and uses savings to make his dreams come true


He’s been saving up the money he used to spend on cigarettes, and is making his dreams come true instead.

Nilo Veloso is a Brazilian retiree from the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará. In 2015, he quit smoking, and since then, he’s been setting aside the money he would have spent on cigarettes. Thanks to those savings, he’s been able to buy computers, cameras, and new furniture; make the down payment on a new car; and visit four other South American countries: Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay.

In a report on the Brazilian news website G1, Nilo explains that he saves up, on average, R$15 (almost 4 US dollars) per day in change. Every year in June he empties the bottle of cash and totals up the results. This past June 5, the total was R$ 5,233 (about $1,365), which is in the range he has usually hit every year since he gave up the addiction.

“On average, every year I end up with between R$5,200 and R$5,600. I’ve already done so much in my life with that money! Quitting smoking was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Devotion to Our Lady of Aparecida

Milo has already decided what he’s going to do with his savings from the past 12 months. “I’m going to spend eight days in Aparecida [the most important Marian shrine in Brazil], in the state of São Paulo, with my wife. I managed to cash in most of the coins and buy the tickets for a trip in August. I’ve already visited almost all of Brazil.”

Nilo told the reporter from G1 that his decision to exchange smoking for a healthier lifestyle happened one day when, upon leaving work for lunch break, he started to feel very ill in his car. He had been smoking daily for 34 years.

“I, who am devoted to Our Lady, asked her that day to help me stop smoking because I was getting sick. Since then, I’ve never gone back.”

From smoking to making his dreams come true

For many people, the health problems from addiction to cigarettes make their dreams go up in smoke; for Nilo, breaking the habit has turned the smoke into dreams come true. He says that he’d tried to stop smoking several times with no success. That day, though, he made a firm resolution, strengthened by a motivational idea: the money that he’d stop spending on cigarettes would be earmarked for “making dreams come true.” He started off by setting aside R$5 a day, and that number grew until it reached the current amount of R$15, which is what three packs of cigarettes cost in Brazil—the amount he used to smoke each day.

His lifestyle has been transformed. He used to be sedentary, and had a hard time breathing; now, he practices sports, which he started when he used his cigarette money to buy a bicycle.

Today, he bikes 36 miles each weekend in one weekend session. Not only that: this ex-smoker leads a biking group he started.

In the end, when we change our lives, it never happens in isolation; we inspire other people around us, too!

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