Sometime in September or October of 2017, I saw an advertisement promoting a Sweepstakes drawing with a replica of Richard Petty’s most famous race car, his 1970 Plymouth Superbird, as the Grand Prize. Richard Petty has been my hero for as long as I can remember, and I’ve wanted to own a Superbird from the time they were the most popular package of pistons and power on the road. Because it was THAT car and modeled after the one that belonged to THAT driver, I sent in a single entry.
One day I received an email that said I was one of fourteen people who had won First Prize in a Sweepstakes sponsored by Smithfield Foods. I’d never heard of Smithfield and I didn’t remember entering a drawing. The message also said I needed to have my bank account and Social Security information notarized and faxed back. That made me think it was a scam so I deleted the message.
A few days later they wrote again. This time I called and asked why they needed my bank and SS information. They assured me the contest was real, that I HAD entered, and that I was guaranteed a three-day, all expense paid trip to Miami, and a key. One key of the fourteen given to First Prize winners would start the engine of the Grand Prize. However, they said, I now only had two days left to get my bank and SS information notarized and faxed to them or they would give the prize to someone else. So I hustled. Well, as much as a paraplegic can hustle.
In 1992 a near-fatal car accident left me paralyzed from the upper chest down. I’ve lived a relatively normal life including attending jewelry school in Portland and driving cross-country to Illinois to attend and graduate from gemology school.
At the time of becoming a finalist in the Sweepstakes, health issues prevented traveling. so I asked if a proxy could represent me, and they approved my request. I called my nephew, Joel, age 28, and invited him to take my place. He was thrilled and when he told his mother, aka, my sister, Stevanie, she called. “Car? What car? What kind of car? (I told her.) THAT car?! I want to go! Can I go?” I said, “You’ll have to ask your son. It’s his trip.”