TEXARKANA, Texas -- One lucky Liberty-Eylau senior is not only celebrating graduation season but is also a winner of a brand new car.
The Robbins Toyota Attend and Win Giveaway contest took place Thursday at Monjunis Italian Café in Texarkana, Arkansas. Kalen Redmond drove away in the 2023 Toyota Corolla he was eligible to win because she had perfect school attendance this year.
Each eligible student -- all local seniors with perfect attendance -- was given a ball with a number on it. They put their numbers into a glass box that Robbins Toyota owner Susan Robbins drew from.
The room erupted in claps and hoorays for the L-E senior as he made his way to the front of the room to claim the keys. The long tables had lots of cupcakes for the guests with sparklers flaming from the frosting.
"I had hopes, but I didn't think they would come true, and they did tonight," Redmond said.
Redmond, struck by surprise, became speechless when his number was called for the grand prize, and his mother, Terece Gooden, burst into tears.
"In our home, God is everything. We believe in him, and obedience is everything, and this child has been the poster child for obedience. My sister and I prayed over that ball. We said, 'This isn't the lucky ball. This is the blessed ball'," Gooden said.
After high school, Redmond plans on attending Texarkana College to do his core classes before transferring to Dallas Art Institute.
Second-place winner Madison Barth won a MacBook Pro along with a $500 dollar Visa gift card. For third place, Hershel Green won an iPad Pro and a $500 Visa gift card. Both were Texas High School students.
"It was really great, because it is going to be so useful to have a laptop like that. And it's a really nice one, too, especially for college for research and studying.
"I honestly could not believe it, because I didn't think I would win anything. And it's cool they were also giving out $100 gift cards so at least everyone gets something," Barth said.
Barth plans to attend Texarkana College then TAMU-T to major in psychology.
After graduation, Green plans to join the Marine Corps.
"I'm really excited and super proud of him for everything he has done and everything he is going to do. He has worked really hard to get here so I am just super proud of him," his aunt Macey Terry said.
At the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, Robbins Toyota challenged five independent school districts' high school seniors to have perfect attendance. The schools included Texas High, Arkansas High, Liberty-Eylau, Pleasant Grove and Trinity Baptist.
Three of the five school districts had students who had perfect attendance for the school year.
Liberty-Eylau ISD students were Skylah Block, Breanna Briggs, Gabriella Gonzalez, Aubryana Henderson, Jasmine Kennedy, Derek Murphy, Richard Plant, Kalen Redmond, and Abel Silva.
Texarkana ISD's were Marco Aguilar, Madison Barth, Hershel Green and Vikesh Patel.
Texarkana Arkansas School District's were Parker Bennett and Ava Price-Gentry.
The local car dealership wanted to do something to give back to the community in a big way, Robbins said. She and general manager Charles Pankey put their heads together, and the idea became a reality.
Robbins' father started Robbins Toyota in 1966.
"Texarkana and the surrounding areas have always been so good and supported us as a local dealership, and I've been looking and trying to figure out how can I give back. ...
"I hope by doing this, it adds more emphasis on how important it is to go to school, get a good education, and people know that Robbins Toyota is here to help and support the community," Robbins said.