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Blacksburg High School Student Wins RAYSAC After Prom Car

Audrey Polk reacts to winning the brand new Nissan Juke.
Audrey Polk reacts to winning the brand new Nissan Juke.

Students from 28 area high schools gathered in downtown Roanoke, to try to win a new car, but it was Audrey Polk, a senior from Blacksburg High School, who won it.

 “I can’t believe it.  I’m so excited.  My car is all worn out,” Polk said moments after the key she had drawn successfully unlocked the car, making her the winner.   Moments later she called her mother in Blacksburg, who didn’t believe her daughter had won.  “No Mom, I REALLY won!” said the excited Polk, who will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall to major in Media Studies.

 Polk was among students who won a chance at the car by attending after prom parties designed to keep high school students safe on prom night.  In order to be eligible, students were required to stay at after prom parties until the events concluded.   Four students from each school were selected to attend the After Prom Grand Finale, which was held in Roanoke’s Century Plaza.

 ”The car is the incentive,” said Kathy Graham Sullivan, director of Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition or RAYSAC.   “When the kids think they might win a new car, they tend to stay at after prom parties where they are safe.”  Sullivan pointed out that since the programs’ inception 25 years ago not a single student had been injured or killed in a vehicular accident at a school participating in the car giveaway program.  Sullivan thanked First Team Auto Mall of Roanoke, which has donated the car for the last 23 years.

 “We think it’s important to keep these kids safe on prom night,” said First Team President and General Manager David Dillon, who was on hand for the giveaway.  “If we can keep kids safe at area high schools by making a car available, we think it’s worth the investment in our communities.”

 RAYSAC changed the theme of this year’s event to more of an outdoor festival that featured a rock climbing wall, cotton candy, a photo booth and other activities. At least one student from every high school won a prize of at least $100 in value.  After the prize giveaways, each student drew a key at random from a basket.   Three of those keys opened a lock box that contained three additional keys.  Only one of those would open the car.  That was the key chosen by Polk, who was near the end of the line of 79 students.

 “I was so far back, I thought there was no way I’d win,” said Polk who realized she’d won when keys chosen by Harley Hodges of James River High School and Katleen Booher of Eastern Montgomery High School failed to open the car door.  Polk reacted by covering her face with her hands and shedding tears of joy.  Hodges and Booher each won iPads.

 “It’s worth it,” said Sullivan.  We made Audrey’s day, and we kept lots of kids safe for another year.”

 For more information on how to help keep kids safe on prom night or to make a donation to the cause, call Kathy Sullivan at (540) 982-1427 ext. 2123 or visit www.raysac.org

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