Published May 9, 2013

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There are three technical schools in the nation involved with Recycled Rides. Washburn Tech was the first.

Recycled Rides onlineWashburn Tech.Read about the Midwest Training Center at Washburn Tech, which opened this spring
2007 Kia Sportage

The tag on the 2007 Kia Sportage Susan Carter received Thursday, May 9, 2013, features the logos of Washburn Tech and the Recycled Rides program. The number four indicates it was the fourth car completed by Washburn Tech students as a Recycled Ride.

Washburn Tech Recycled Rides presents fourth car at Kansas Capitol

Susan Carter looks at her new car, with her key in her hands, which are at her cheeks in excitementTwo Kansans received cars refurbished by students at two Kansas technical education institutions at a special event Thursday morning on the State House lawn.

Washburn Tech and Manhattan Area Technical College were the first and second schools in the nation, respectively, to participate in the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program. On Thursday, Washburn Tech presented its fourth refurbished vehicle and Manhattan Area Tech presented its second. The fifth Washburn Tech Recycled Ride will be presented Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. on the Washburn Tech campus in collaboration with its 14th Annual Car Show.

Governor Sam Brownback praised the commitment and action of the students, instructors and supporters from both institutions.

“You built your skills and you built your hearts,” he said.

Susan Carter received the car repaired by Auto Collision Repair students at Washburn Tech. Donated by Brad Clark and his wife, Pam, the 2007 Kia Sportage received front end damage after the Clarks son, Tanner, hit a deer. Tanner was uninjured in the accident. The deer walked away, said Brad, who is a computer networking instructor at Washburn Tech.

It was through his relationship with Eric Showalter, Auto Collision Repair instructor at Washburn Tech that the Clark family decided to donate the vehicle.

“It was going to cost too much to fix it,” Clark said. “I was talking to Eric and he said ‘That sounds perfect for us.’ That was it.”

Dozens of students, professional mentors and instructors at Washburn Tech got the crossover vehicle back to pre-accident condition during an April Repair-a-Thon and subsequent volunteer hours.

“No tax dollars are sent to repair these cars,” Showalter said. “This is all extracurricular for us and it is fantastic.”

Carter was nominated to receive a vehicle by Dawn Zabala, her case worker with Sheltered Living, Inc. Carter’s nomination was selected by a group that included representatives of several area non-profit agencies.

“She had been piecing cars together for the last four years,” Zabala said. When Carter’s third car in four years died in January she didn’t have the resources for another one – especially not another money pit. She began to take the bus to and from her job at TARC, Inc., to the grocery store or to visit family members.

“I got a call from the United Way and was told to call (Washburn Tech). I called and said ‘Is this really true? I get a car?’ He said it was. I just jumped up and down,” Carter recalled in an interview.

Carter told the crowd gathered at the Capitol on Thursday that she was thrilled to receive the car and regain her independence.

“My mom always told us girls that she wouldn’t be here forever and taught us to be independent. This vehicle will help me continue to live my life as I was taught. Thank you all very much,” she said. “Thank you.”

When the cover was removed from the refurbished light green 2007 Kia Sportage, Carter gasped and said: “Oh!” in a tone of shock and excitement. As she turned the key in the ignition she smiled and told Showalter “Oh, my God! I love this vehicle.”

He told her she deserved it.