Kayla O’Riley and her mother Tammy erupted with cheers and tears when Kayla’s name was read at East Coast Honda Monday evening.
Kayla O’Riley, a 16-year-old Carolina Forest student, won a car.
Tammy O’Riley thinks she may have screamed louder than her daughter.
“I think she was in shock,” she said.
It only took a couple seconds for the teenager to select the white 2013 Volkswagen Jetta. She barely looked at the red Honda Fit parked next to it.
She was the fifth and final recipient of a free car from the dealership which has selected a name from a raffle of 164 students with perfect attendance in Horry and Georgetown counties. This school year was the last for the annual contest. The company is changing directions in the way it assists the community, according to its website.
Greg Smith, president and CEO at East Coast Honda, said this year had 43 more entries than the drawing in 2012 with students from Aynor to Carver’s Bay entered.
“I never thought I would win,” Kayla said. “There were 100 some people entering. There’s a ton of people that haven’t missed school.”
Winning a car wasn’t at the forefront of her mind as an incentive to attend school everyday – including one day when she had a 102 degree fever.
“My mom told me about it and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool,’” Kayla said. “But, I didn’t really think about it.”
Instead, she said she’s been thinking about wanting to go to college and finding a good job in the future.
“When you have Spanish and algebra II, you can’t really miss it,” she said. “You don’t really want to miss out on education at all. If you miss one day you get behind.”
O’Riley said her daughter is the kind of daughter people want to have and is simply a good, hardworking kid.
She had been driving her daughter to school on her way to work in the mornings.
“Her dream was to be able to drive herself,” O’Riley said. “She drives, she’s got her license but I’m her mom, and I’m afraid to let her go by herself.”
O’Riley said she or her husband Mike likely will ride with their daughter the first few trips. Kayla said she hopes the first trip is to the beach.
O’Riley said she’s proud of her daughter for her dedication to school with perfect attendance and near perfect grades.
Financing Kayla’s ride is a burden off her parent’s shoulders with Monday’s unexpected win.
“Her daddy is a disabled American veteran,” O’Riley said. “So it helps a lot.”