Ashley Nolen lost a lot of sleep Saturday night. But it was for good reason.
She had stayed awake, watching the video her friends took of her winning a 2016 Honda Fit LX CVT in the Patty Peck Honda Doo Dah Dayâ„¢ Blue Car Giveaway during Fondren’s Zippity Doo DahÂ® Weekend.
“I watched that video a trillion times,” she laughs. “And I still can not believe it. I knew it though, I tell you I did. I told friends last week, ‘I know I’m going to win this car.’”
Nolen, a young professional who frequents Fondren and worked for Professional Staffing Group there, says she has always been a fan of the neighborhood. She also says she’s always been passionate about the state’s only children’s hospital who the contest benefits, Batson, that also calls Fondren home. She had bought tickets in previous years for the Blue Car giveaway but this year, she had a strategy.
“I was in the market for a new car but thought it was great way to support hospital, too,” she tells of why she purchased ten tickets as soon as they were offered. “I knew how this worked: if I’m not in the first drawing, I’ll have nine other opportunities.” She so happened to be the first finalist drawn back in February.
It was then her mechanic at Jim’s Tire and Auto, Bobby, sat “Bubbles” (his nickname for her) down to break the news of badly needed tires for her well-loved 1999 Toyota Camry. “‘We have to have this conversation’ he told me. And my response was, ‘no, I don’t need tires, because, on April 2, I’m going to win this car!’ I had the information that I was a finalist at that point and I said ‘I’m not putting tires on it because I’m getting rid of this thing!’”
Her old car, with 175,000 miles on it and a “headlight hanging by a thread” had been hailed on and has “a trick to get out of the driver’s door.” But at the same time, Nolen says she was being very conscious of debt freedom. This car giveaway, generously made possible for the past six years by Patty Peck Honda, was her proverbial winning ticket to a new ride.
As the first key finalist drawn, Nolen would be first to choose a random key from the bag and would be first to try the padlocked treasure chest. “I was nervous, but I was confident at the same time,” she explains. “It wasn’t arrogance, but I thought, ‘This won’t be fun for anybody else! This is my car!’” With trembling hands she battled the lock, trying as hard as she could and then, the magic moment, when she says, frankly, she lost her mind. She even straddled THE Sweet Potato QueenÂ®, Jill Conner Browne, as friends and family looked on with glee.
Nolen says blue is now her new favorite color. Saturday, as she arrived early and walked around the car and “prayed over and spoke to it,” she felt a certain kinship to this particular vehicle. Â “Even driving my Camry around, and feeling every pothole and how rickety it is, there’s nostalgia that comes with that. I was in college, in different relationships and on road trips with that car. But it’s exciting to begin a new relationship with a new car.”
Personally speaking, the Blue Car Giveaway means something else for Nolen, too. “The last six to nine months have been tough. I have been in this place, and then, on Saturday – the joy I felt – and it was like, ‘I’m going to be ok.’ It’s monumental in my personal growth process. I had made peace before the drawing with maybe not winning and knew I’d be okay with that. And then it happened. It’s so remarkable.”