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Lathrop Youth Focus wins car raffle Auto factor donates money to buy 25 tickets
Three generations of the Mike Torres Band of Lathrop led by Mike Torres Sr., with the black sombrero at extreme right, kept the evening on toe-tapping and knee-slapping levels during the car-drawing fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society Lathrop Relay for Life Wednesday evening at USA Motors. The event coincided with the Lathrop Chamber of Commerce monthly mixer and a Customer Appreciation celebration. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
LATHROP – This story is about the car that could. It can also be a story about teen-agers who have been good.

And because they have been good, they got the car.

Either way, the story is about the Youth Focus of Lathrop comprised of about a dozen high school students who emerged the lucky winners, collectively, of the 2000 silver Plymouth Neon at the car raffle fund-raiser Tuesday night. The event was held during the combined Customer Appreciation Night and Lathrop Chamber of Commerce monthly mixer at the USA Motors on Harlan Road next to the Hampton Inn off Louise Avenue.

USA Motors, owned by East Union High School graduate Steve Ramsey and his wife Rhonda, donated the car valued at $5,000. All proceeds from the fund-raiser will go to the American Cancer Society’s Lathrop Relay for Life which will be held in August at Lathrop High School on West Lathrop Road.

“We’re blessed. We are truly blessed and we’re grateful. We’re lucky to have people that care and care about what we do to the community,” said Youth Focus member and reigning Miss Lathrop Haniyeh Semsar, an incoming senior at Lathrop High.

Semsar and about a dozen other Youth Focus members except for two who could not make it were at the event to help which is part of their role as ambassadors of their community.

“USA Motors is a sponsor of Youth Focus, and they asked us to help direct people where to park and to help set the (parking) barriers,” explained Anna Candelaria, the group’s coordinator whose daughter, Christian, was last year’s Miss Lathrop.

Only one ticket was needed to win the car. But the Youth Focus did not even have to spend a penny for one ticket. Auto Factory of Stockton, who was represented by employee Rico Bianchi, forked over $500 to buy 25 raffle tickets for the Youth Focus. Rhonda Ramsey, who picked the winning ticket toward the end of the outdoor extravaganza, could hardly believe her eyes when she saw the name of the winners.

Lathrop Youth Focus Mother Hen Anna Candelaria said they, in turn, plan to raffle off the car that they won as a fund-raising vehicle for their group. How and when that will be done will have to be discussed further with the group, she said.

 However, one thing is for sure, Candelaria said. Proceeds from this car raffle will be used for Lathrop scholarships and competitions.

So this is the story of the car that could translate to “more possibilities that we can bring to Lathrop,” Miss Lathrop Semsar said.