Winning the Wheels for Winners Car Raffle

Paul Lauer, St. Louis, was the winner of the 2010 Wheels for Winners car raffle and a brand-new Ford Mustang.

In October of 2010, I was attending the Over the Edge event in St. Louis with my two children.  My 7 1/2 year old son, Kyle, noticed a candy apple red Ford Mustang convertible parked in front of the Four Seasons hotel and grabbed my hand so that we could go look at it.  My son was very interested in winning that Mustang.  I assured him that I would buy tickets for the raffle as in years past but told him not to get his hope up because there was probably little chance that I would win.  While admiring the car, I was approached by Lindsey, a SOMO athlete, who asked if I would like to purchase tickets.  I had a $20 bill in my wallet and offered it to her with the intention of buying one, maybe two tickets.  Lindsey took my $20 and before I could say anything, she said, “$20?  Here’s your four tickets.”  I thought to myself – its such a worthy cause, I’ll just take the four tickets as she had suggested.  My son, Kyle, was very excited.

Several weeks went by to the point where I had really forgotten about the raffle tickets.  While outside raking leaves, my cell phone rang and it was none other than Susan Stegeman of SOMO letting me know that I had been selected as a finalist in the raffle for the 2011 Ford Mustang convertible.  I couldn’t believe it.  That was certainly not a call that I was expecting.  As you can imagine, no one was more excited than my son Kyle.  Being a finalist (one of eight people), I was invited to the Mizzou football game and was told that I could bring a guest.  Prior to the game, the winner of the Ford Mustang would be determined at a tail-gate party.  This was a no-brainer…Kyle was coming with me.  I told him that no matter what happened, we would have a great time just being a part of the process.

Paul Lauer as his key opens the door to the Mustang, signaling that he was the winner

On the day of the football game, Kyle and I headed out to Mizzou and made our way to the tailgate party where we saw the Ford Mustang and had our picture taken next to it.  It was freezing cold outside on this November morning, but neither Kyle or I cared much … our focus was on winning a Mustang!  The rules were explained to me.  Each final contestant would pick a number.  That number would determine who would pick a key first, second, etc. and then try that key on the Mustang.  I was number two.  I then picked a key.  The first contestant walked up and tried her key.  It was a no-go.  I went up to the Mustang and tried my key.  It turned!  I thought, “this can’t be right,” so I turned it again and sure enough, I had the winning key!!  Kyle ran up to me, hugged me and started jumping up and down!  He was wild and crazy!  More wild and crazy than I was.  I was in silent shock.  He was in full blown “go crazy” mode.  There were six contestants standing behind me that weren’t all too excited to know that their chance of winning a car was over but they clapped for me as well.  What a feeling … a brand new Ford Mustang for just $20!!

Kyle and Paul Lauer with athlete Sarah Byland just after winning the Mustang

After our win, Kyle and I enjoyed the Mizzou football game over several cups of hot chocolate.  During half-time, I was brought onto the field and announced as the winner of the 2011 Ford Mustang convertible.  What a rush!  The fans all cheered and I got my brief moment of stardom on the jumbo-tron at Faurot Field.  Kyle and I ended our night with a stay in the Capri Casino Hotel courtesy of SOMO.  This was truly an unforgettable experience for both Kyle and I.  Kyle, to this day, loves to ride around with me in the Mustang, top down and radio on.  There’s no better feeling!!

You can win a new Ford Mustang this year, too! Visit www.somo.org/win to purchase tickets online, or call your area office. Because the car is donated  by the Missouri Automobile Dealer’s Association, all proceeds from the raffle benefit Special Olympics Missouri.

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