Leonard Motors surprises winner of its car giveaway

Bryan resident Tieler Whitaker, 29, was selected as the winner. It has been close to a decade...
Bryan resident Tieler Whitaker, 29, was selected as the winner. It has been close to a decade since he last owned a car.(KBTX)
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 1:44 AM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Leonard Motors surprised the winner of its first-ever car giveaway by presenting him with the keys at the dealership Monday evening.

At the end of 2021, Leonard Motors announced they were giving away a used 2007 Saturn Vue as a way of giving back to the community. They selected 29-year-old Bryan resident Tieler Whitaker and surprised him with news.

”A little in disbelief, excited, overwhelmed,” Whitaker said about the moment he was told he was getting a free car. “It definitely turned around my entire day today, so I’m in complete shock. I’m definitely grateful. I definitely feel blessed beyond belief, but still kind of shaken, a little in shock.”

Whitaker says it’s been close to a decade since he last owned a car, which has made things challenging for him. Now that he has one again, Whitaker says he plans on making it to all the reunions with family and friends he’s missed over the years because he was without his own source of transportation.

“Honestly, the sky’s the limit. It will open so many doors for me,” Whitaker said. “I’ve missed out on some weddings and some pretty important events in my friends’ lives, so I’ll definitely be making up for it traveling and getting to visit people and play some catch up.”

Whitaker’s mom was the one who nominated him. He says she buttered him up with promises of food in order to get him to the dealership without suspecting anything.

“She said that she had won a Yeti cup in a raffle, so that’s kind of where she left it,” Whitaker said. “She definitely got me good.”

Leonard Motors Owner and General Manager Elise Leonard says they received nearly 140 nominations over the six-week period they were being accepted. A four person panel went over each one to select who they believed was most deserving and needed the car most.

“I think what set Tieler apart was him riding his bike back and forth to work every day,” Leonard said. “He has missed out on a lot of family functions because he didn’t have transportation. We wanted to give this car to him to help him get back on his feet, and so he doesn’t have to pay for Uber or Lyft to get around everywhere.”

Leonard says she hopes they can do this every year and see the same kind of look on the faces of future winners that she saw on Tieler’s.

“We’ve never been able to do anything like this in the past, and it warms my heart for us to be able to give back to someone in our community,” Leonard said.

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