Carlton grad wins car restored by local businesses

Matt Gardner
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New high school graduate Dustin Vick has received what may be the best graduation gift anyone could ask for.

Left to right: Prize committee co-chair Rhonda Herzog, Carlton Comprehensive High School graduate Dustin Vick and prize committee co-chair Lisa Olsen stand in front of the 2004 Ford Focus that Vick won in a draw at the Carlton after-grad event. Local businesses helped restore the car free of charge.

Vick, 18, is now the proud owner of a 2004 Ford Focus, which he won in a draw at an after-grad event following Tuesday’s graduation ceremony for Carlton Comprehensive High School seniors.

“I feel pretty good,” the winner said on Wednesday as he picked up his new ride -- decorated with a red ribbon atop the windshield -- outside the Art Hauser Centre.

“I was surprised when I got called,” he added. “I didn’t think I was going to.”

Organizers announced the draw winner at the end of the after-grad event.

Part of the draw’s intent was encouraging students to stick around at the after-grad, which was billed as a safer option for post-grad evening entertainment.

“Carlton puts on a safe after-grad after the Carlton graduation day, so we wanted to have the kids stay and enjoy that,” prize committee co-chair and parent-grad committee member Lisa Olsen said.

“This was the last draw of the night. We drew for this car about 20 after 2 in the morning and any of the grads that were standing in the building at that point throughout the night got their name in for the draw -- and Dustin was the lucky pick.”

Despite the enticing prize, not everyone who entered the draw bothered to see if they won.

“They called a couple names before me and the people weren’t there, so I was probably about the fifth name or so,” Vick said. “And then yeah, they just called me up and … talked me through the details.”

The prize committee would not have been able to offer the vehicle at all without the help of local businesses, who each lent crucial support to restore the car.

P.A. Auto Wreckers and Salvage owner David Medve played an indispensable role by donating the Focus itself after initial plans fell by the wayside.

“At the parent-grad (committee’s) first meeting, we had everyone together and we just threw it out there -- ‘Does anybody have a car sitting in their yard that maybe they’re not doing anything with that you’d like to donate?’ -- and I had a family come up and donate a car,” Olsen recalled.

We didn’t pay a dime for this car. We had all that community support from local businesses. Lisa Olsen

“It was just too hard to find parts for that car, so Dave was working at P.A. Auto Wreckers hard trying to find parts and it just was a dead end. When that happened, he said, ‘You know what, I’m going to find you guys a car.’ So that’s when he came on board and donated the car.”

Other businesses concentrated on getting the Focus in tip-top shape for its after-grad debut.

NAPA Auto Parts supplied the new parts that were needed and Unified Auto Parts the used parts, while Access Tire provided the tires.

Midtown Transmission and Auto Care performed mechanical labour, P.A. Auto Body polished the exterior and Klunkerz handled the cleaning of the car, which included shampooing the rugs and interior as well as detailing.

Meanwhile, Wilcox Zuk Chovin Law Offices partner Barry Wilcox handled the legal aspects, such as writing up a release waiver.

The businesses’ collective support meant that the cost for the prize committee was effectively zero.

“We didn’t pay a dime for this car,” Olsen said. “We had all that community support from local businesses.”

“They were so awesome to work with,” she added. “They were all on board, loved the idea, and were just more than willing to do whatever it took to get the car into the hands of the new winner.”

The Ford Focus is the second vehicle for Vick, who up to this point has been driving a jeep that formerly belonged to his parents and later his sister.

Reiterating his surprise at winning, Vick expressed his gratitude to those working behind the scenes.

“I’d like to thank all the grad committee and everything -- the prize committee -- for actually stepping up and getting this car … and all the parents and stuff that volunteered their time.”

Organizations: Ford Focus, Carlton Comprehensive High School, Auto Parts

Geographic location: NAPA

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