Wheels to Prosper

Cody Willenborg (left) presents keys to Brooke Daiber, while Phil Webster gives keys to Blake Barnes and Mark Probst looks on. Daiber and Barnes were named the winners of a car.

By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
Brooke Daiber had just woken up from a nap when her telephone rang.
The voice on the other end told her she was a finalist in the Wheels to Prosper program and that she needed to be in Effingham by noon on Saturday.
Blake Barnes knew he had been nominated as well, but then forgot about it until he, too, received a similar call.
Brooke and Blake had never met prior to Saturday, but they shared something in common. Both had been in accidents that left them without transportation.
And as of about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, they shared something else in common. Their transportation needs had been solved. They were both selected as winners and drove home with a car.
Brooke, who received a 2004 Chevy Malibu, remembered saying “Is this for real?” after receiving that phone call. “I’m still in shock. Good things like this don’t normally happen to me.”
“I can’t believe this,” Blake added, after receiving the keys to a 2006 Chrysler Town & Country mini-van. “As soon as they started talking, my heart started racing. I was so hopeful I’d get one of the cars. I still haven’t calmed down.”
Mark Probst, of Probst Auto Body; Cody Willenborg, of CW Motorsports; and Phil Webster, of Teutopolis Auto Sales/Webster Tire & Auto Service – the three sponsors of the Wheels to Prosper event in Effingham County – were on hand to make the presentation Saturday in the Save-A-Lot parking lot.
The goal of the program is to give vehicles away to people based on need and what they want to accomplish.
This is the sixth year for the event. During that time, 13 vehicles have now been given away.
This year, 27 letters were received and 22 people nominated.
“It’s never been easy selecting the winner,” Probst admitted. “We always have several deserving nominees.”
“There is usually one standout candidate and a handful of other really good ones,” Webster added. “When you read through the letters, you just wonder ‘How are we going to decide?’
“Our goal is to make sure we pick the right people,” Willenborg noted. “The letters we received for Brooke and Blake just jumped out at us.”
Brooke is from Breese. She is a 21-year-old senior at St. Louis University, majoring in Criminal Justice. Her goal is to be a behavioral analyst with the FBI. She was nominated by her boyfriend’s sister, Brooke Smith, from Altamont.
Brooke was in a car accident about a year ago and has been without transportation since.
“My boyfriend drives to St. Louis every weekend just to chauffer me around,” she noted. “I am so grateful for this car. This will help me get a job in the city, plus provide transportation for an internship.”
Blake is 17, lives in Moweaqua and is a senior at Central A&M High School. He was nominated by his friend, Anna Kiley. He, too, has been without transportation since his car accident in mid-August. That has made it difficult to get to school and to his job at the Moweaqua Golf Course.
It has made it especially tough to get to the Shelbyville County CEO Class, which is held at Shelbyville High School. In fact, he missed that class for a full week because of his car situation.
“I know what the CEO class did for my daughter Sidney,” Webster said. “When I read his nomination and learned he wasn’t going to be able to go to that class, it had an impact on our decision.”
“Now I don’t have to worry about getting to class,” Blake said with a big smile. “I’m very thankful for this van. It will make my senior year a lot better.”
And it will allow him to continue developing a computer business as his CEO project.
“I built my own personal computer and it was a hassle,” he explained. “So I decided to build computers for other people so they don’t have to go through those same hassles.”
Probst, Webster and Willenborg share the costs of the vehicles and making sure they are ready to be driven home following Saturday’s program. They expressed thanks to Blankenship Auto Parts and Dust & Son Auto Supplies for donating many of the parts that were needed.
They were also appreciative of Todd Martin, from Save-A-Lot, for making the parking lot available for the event and providing free food for those attending.
The three business owners were pleased with this year’s event and the two winners that were selected.
“It means a lot to know we’re really helping people,” Willenborg said.