It’s somewhat of a tradition for some lucky Cheney High School graduating senior to win a refurbished car at the Senior All-Nighter.
It’s not quite a tradition for the senior who wins the vehicle to give it to a friend. But, that’s what 2013 graduate Sami Sheffels did at the annual post-commencement celebration June 7 held at the high school’s Little Theatre.
The car, a 1999 Hyundai Accent, was one of 15 grand prizes students had a chance to win by having their name drawn in a raffle. Sheffels didn’t think her name would be in the hat, since her mom, Jill, was a part of the committee that helped locate and fix up the car.
“We’d talked about it before and I thought my mom pulled it out,” Sami said.
Sami said a friend of hers kept saying she’d win the car, but once her name was drawn, she didn’t believe it even as she was being told. But she said she’d already made plans beforehand, just in case.
“I knew I would give it to Darien since she was saving for a car for a long time,” Sheffels said.
When best friend and fellow graduate Darien Brophy heard almost immediately that Sheffels was giving her the car, it was her turn to be surprised.
“I kept thinking, don’t cry, don’t cry Darien,” she said. “I was shocked and speechless.”
It was almost a moment that didn’t happen. Jill Sheffels said the All-Nighter parents committee had searched for months trying to locate a vehicle, scouring the Internet and various publications and resources to no avail.
Finally about two months ago they found one in a friend’s backyard in Sprague. The Hyundai had flat tires and a dented hood from impacting a deer.
Ryan Sheffels hauled an air compressor to Sprague, inflated the tires drove it back to the family ranch nearby, where other problems soon cropped up, namely a hole in the exhaust manifold that required welding.
“Steve (Jill’s husband) did that because it was kind of hard to get someone to donate,” Jill Sheffels said.
According to information from committee member Linda Reznicek, West Hills Joint Venture rebuilt the clutch and Motion Auto donated the clutch package. From there, other donors began chipping in.
“It just kind of made the big round,” Jill Sheffels said.
Peak Performance Psychiatry and Swenson’s Trees teamed to purchase the Accent.
Les Schwab in Airway Heights fixed the brakes while Les Schwab in Cheney donated new wheel covers. Pull & Save donated a new hood, and Cheney’s J&M Collision fixed the dents, repainted the vehicle and detailed the inside.
Silverstar Automotive lubed and oiled the vehicle, Larry Miller Hyundai donated new head gaskets while Napa Auto in Airway Heights donated new floor mats and Cheney’s Napa helped out with paint and other items.
Aspen Sound on Division in Spokane donated a “really nice stereo and speakers,” Reznicek said, with Jeff Harper at Aspen donating his labor to install the system.
“We only asked for a stereo, and they volunteered the rest,” Reznicek said.
The Accent has been getting some mileage put on it recently as Brophy learns to drive a manual transmission with a clutch. The senior plans to enroll at Spokane Community College this fall in the culinary arts courses, as well as taking business classes with the hopes of opening her own bakery someday.
Sami Sheffels will attend the University of Oregon this fall, majoring in psychiatry and pre-med, looking towards a career in psychiatry or social work. She won’t be alone on her trip to Eugene, thanks to an act of kindness to a friend.
“We’re all talking about doing a road trip up with her so we don’t have to say goodbye so soon,” Brophy said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.