Tobie Blanchard | 4/10/2006 9:09:52 PM
“I’ve never won anything in my life,” cried Tasha Miller, upon hearing that she’d won a new car worth $25,000.
But her day had come. Miller, a 4-H volunteer from New Orleans who lost her home in Hurricane Katrina, won a 2006 Toyota Prius hybrid from NBA star Amare Stoudemire.
Stoudemire, a center with the Phoenix Suns, gave away cars to 10 4-H volunteer leaders. Those volunteers lost homes, jobs and even loved ones in hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“I think it is well-deserved,” Stoudemire said. “They put so much time in the community.”
Stoudemire owns a Toyota dealership in Florida, his home state, and wanted to do something for victims of the hurricanes. He contacted the NBA for help, and because of 4-H’s work with the New Orleans Hornets over the years, the NBA suggested he reward 4-H leaders.
“It certainly speaks well for our 4-H program,” said Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor. “We have a group of devoted 4-H volunteer leaders. They enjoy working with the youth and making a difference in their lives. They don’t expect rewards for their work. I’m thrilled that they were able to benefit from Amare’s generosity.”
The 10 finalists who received cars were selected from 30 applicants. They gathered at New Orleans’ City Park Saturday (Feb. 18) under the impression that only one would drive away with a new car.
The 6-foot, 11-inch Stoudemire drove up in a black Prius. The finalists, all women, greeted him and took turns sitting in the car.
As the women lined up for the drawing, Stoudemire said, “You guys have been so great to the community – all of you are getting Toyotas.”
The women and their family members erupted in cheers as nine more Priuses drove up. Some of the winners fell to the ground; others rushed to hug Stoudemire.
“I can’t catch my breath. I’m so excited right now,” said Elaine Sanchez, sitting in one of the new cars. “This is wonderful.”
Stoudemire toured the site of what was Sanchez’s home in New Orleans East before the giveaway.
“I just had to reach out and bless them with something that’s coming from the heart,” said Stoudemire, the top of his white track suit covered in make-up from hugs and kisses from the grateful women.
All the women were able to drive off in their new cars with taxes and title fees also covered by Stoudemire.
(This article appeared in the winter 2006 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)