Winner who will sport new car for year selected

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<p>Selwyn Harris / Pahrump Valley Times - Car dealership co-owner Tom Saitta moderates a selection committee tasked with choosing the most deserving entry for the Saitta-Trudeau “Get Back on Your Feet” program this month. Pictured in the background are Ronda Van Winkle (right) from KPVM television, Karen Jackson, owner of KNYE Radio and Deanna O’Donnell of KPVM. In the foreground sits Don Trudeau. The individual selected will be announced on New Year’s Eve.</p>

Roughly four days from today one local family or individual will get to use a brand new automobile for one year courtesy of a local car dealership.

Officials at Saitta-Trudeau announced their inaugural “Get Back on Your Feet” event back in October where a winner will receive the use of a 2013 Dodge Dart for one full year or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The dealership will also spring for other important incidentals as part of the program.

The winner of the program will be officially announced on New Year’s Eve.

Co-owner Don Trudeau said the dealership wanted to find a good way to give back to the community, which has supported the business for many years.

“We will give them a tank full of gas just to start the month off. We will also take care of all of the maintenance on the car for a year and maybe that will be the catalyst that gets them to where they can go out and get the job they lost because they didn’t have transportation.

“There’s a lot of people in need out there right now. Many are just one paycheck away from losing their home or car. One small hiccup in their life can really put them in a bad situation. Obviously we can’t help them all but we wanted to look at a way that could at least help someone and transportation is a big thing in people’s lives,” he said.

In order for families to get in on the offer, they or a second party needed to write or email any of the five media outlets in Pahrump describing why the person or family truly deserves the use of the car.

Last week, a special selection committee went through all of the correspondence received and subsequently chose the most deserving winner.

Without pre-empting the official announcement, a winner was chosen from more than 100 entries.

Tom Saitta made sure to point out that the program is not a “giveaway” more than it is an opportunity for the winner to “get back on their feet” after going through some trying times.

The businessman also said many of the letters were quite thought provoking in terms of substance.

“There were many, many deserving families where if they did get the car, they would be better off one year later. In one letter, two daughters of one family wrote in. This will be an ongoing program and we plan to do it again next year,” he said.

KNYE 95.1 Owner Karen Jackson said she wanted to be part of the effort.

Jackson, who routinely sponsors food and supply drives in Pahrump, submitted the letter that was eventually chosen by the selection committee.

“I just thought it was a really neat thing for Tom and Don to do and they received the most letters. I only got two. It was very hard to decide but I said from the get-go that I had the winning letter. Somehow I knew that I had the winning letter. I don’t know how I knew, but I just knew,” she said.

Jackson, who recently completed a holiday food drive on the radio, did note that she anticipates a much larger community response for the second annual program next year.

“I think this year we could have had more entries. Something tells me that people just didn’t believe that it was really happening and I hope that we get more nominees next year for the program,” she said.

KPVM Television co-owner Ronda Van Winkle said she was equally pleased the dealership took the initiative by sponsoring a program which can truly benefit someone who going through trying times at present.

“It was a really neat idea for them to come up with it in the first place and allow the local media to be a part of it all. We were able to see what kind of response we would get from a program such as that. It was a little slow at first, but it sure got heavy towards the deadline. We received almost 20 letters at KPVM,” she said.

Van Winkle said at times she was overcome with emotion as herself and News Anchor Deanna O’Donnell read each letter addressed to the station.

“I was amazed at how many really tough stories there are out there. I was also very impressed with some of the parents that are doing whatever it takes to care for their children. Even though there were a lot of heart-wrenching stories, it wasn’t necessarily the most destitute person that we went with because this is a get back on your feet car use for a year. It made us really think about who to award the vehicle to because we would hate to give it to somebody for a year for a year and then take it away after a year leaving them destitute again,” she said.

It took about two hours for the committee to select what they deemed as the most deserving entry, which will be announced next Tuesday at the dealership.