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$20 chance for 2000 Plymouth Neon helps Lathrop Relay for Life
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LATHROP – Here’s a deal that is hard to pass up: $20 for an immaculate 2000 Plymouth Neon.

But, of course, there’s a small catch to it. You have to buy a ticket for that amount.

The good news – there are only 500 tickets being sold. And the better part of the news – the money you spend for a ticket goes to the American Cancer Society via the Lathrop Relay for Life. That’s the nonprofit organization that car donors Steve and Rhonda Ramsey, owners of Lathrop USA Motors, have chosen to be the recipient of all the proceeds.

The money will be used as “seed money for the (Lathrop Relay) in August,” Rhonda Ramsey said.

“We’ve had people buying tickets for their grandkids, for their college,” she said.

The car is valued at $5,000.

The second annual Lathrop Relay for Life will be held at Lathrop High School the weekend of Aug. 28-29.

To be qualified for the car drawing, you have to purchase the tickets on or before Wednesday, June 16, which is when the winner will be picked. The drawing will be the highlight of the Lathrop Chamber Mixer being hosted that evening by USA Motors. The Ramseys are also holding a Customer Appreciation celebration that evening complete with live entertainment featuring Lathrop’s very own Mike Torres Band. The event is open to the public.

Ramsey said she and her husband decided to donate a car to help a local organization. They chose the Lathrop Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society because “cancer has affected both sides of our family,” she said. They have been active in the Relays for Life in Lodi where they live and in Tracy where some family members live.

The Customer Appreciation part of the evening mixer is the Ramsey’s way of thanking the community that has supported their business since they opened in August of 2006, Rhonda Ramsey explained.

“We wanted to give back to the community that has helped us during our first four years especially during this difficult economy. The community has been good to us. When a community is good to you, you have to give back; that’s really true,” she said.

She added, “The city of Lathrop has been outstanding to work with. Really, they have, because there’s been a lot of prep work for this (business site).”

City leaders were happy to welcome the Ramseys’ business, in part, because it was Lathrop’s first car dealership. They were equally glad to see what seemed like a difficult location to “sell” a business turn into a potential revenue-generating source for the city. USA Motors is located on a triangular one-acre piece of land right on the east side of Interstate 5’s northbound on-ramp. The Ramseys liked the location though for its high visibility on the freeway.

USA Motors was also the Ramseys’ first foray into owning a car dealership. Steve Ramsey, a native of the Manteca-Lathrop area and a 1978 graduate of East Union High School, has been in the auto business for 20 years holding jobs as manager, salesman and other aspects of the business. His wife is just as familiar with the business, with her father involved in the car business for four decades.

When the property along the old Harlan Road just north of Louise Avenue became available, the Ramseys ended their long search for a property that fitted their business plans.

“We’ve been looking for a site about three to four years. We wanted freeway access. And when he found this site, he showed it to me and we started plans for building,” Rhonda said.

She and her husband, along with employee Edgar Aguilar who has been with the company for three years, make up the total staff for the business. The Ramseys’ two children also lend a hand as needed. Son Reed, 23, works at USA Motors part time when he’s not working at Costco in Tracy. Daughter Summer, 19, is attending California State University, Chico where she’s studying marketing and business.

Tickets for the car raffle are available at the Lathrop Chamber of Commerce office located next to Starbucks in the Lathrop Save Mart Shopping Center on North Harlan Road just south of Lathrop Road, and at USA Motors during regular business hours: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Or you can call Rhonda Ramsey at 983-8888 at USA Motors, Cheryl Arrington of the Lathrop Chamber at (209) 740-9007, or Lathrop Chamber CEO Mary Kennedy-Bracken at (209) 740-6503.

One need not be present to win.