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Several area businesses are teaming up to make one person’s dream come true by fully restoring an older model vehicle free of charge.

Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations Shop Manager Ashley Litton said they are looking for someone with a 1975 or older project vehicle who has gone above and beyond for their friends and family or maybe the community.

“We wanted to give back to the community and have decided to have the community nominate and vote for someone who they feel has given to everybody else while putting themselves on the back burner," said Litton. “Someone who has had their dream car they want to restore and it has been pushed into the weeds because they take care of everybody else and not themselves.”

Litton said they are going to restore their vehicle free of charge for them and they are going to handle all of the labor. She added they are working with local businesses and sponsors to help with the parts and everything the vehicle will need.

“We hope to do something like this every year or two, but right now this is a trial run to see how it goes,” said Litton. “We still have a week left of accepting nominations and we would like to see a whole bunch more come in.”

Litton said they want people to nominate and vote for who they feel really deserves this. She said they aren’t choosing the winner, the community will be doing that by voting. She added they will have a vetting process to make sure they really couldn’t afford to do this on their own.

“We are going to make sure this person really deserves this and has really given back,” said Litton. “We definitely want to do that for somebody in our community.”

She added there are a couple ways to nominate someone. One is through their Facebook page, Mid-America Auto Body & Restoration. There is a pinned post and nominations can be submitted there in the comments with a picture.

“The other way is through email at payitforward@midamericaautobody.com and I check those daily as well,” said Litton. “We have had about 70 submissions so far, but there will be certain things that will disqualify a person. One is if it’s a car we have already had. Another is (our) family and friends are not allowed to participate in the contest, and if they can afford to restore the car on their own.”

Litton said the list will be narrowed down to 10 and they will interview to make sure they meet the criteria. Then they will post it online and the community will decide by voting for their favorite.

“We are looking for a lot more submissions for the contest and hope to have a larger list because there are some who won’t qualify already,” said Litton. “We are also looking for sponsors for this project. And once this car is completely finished, we are going to make sure they go to the local car shows and every sponsor, person and business who helped will be listed on a sign and it will travel with the car to the shows.”

Litton said they will be holding a Hot Rod Car Show to help raise money for the restore and they are partnering with Low Cash Classics. She added they will be giving away prizes. They will make a list of parts and anyone who wants to help can purchase a part and bring it by the shop.

“We will also hold shop tours and more,” said Litton. “We are hoping for donations to make this project possible. Let’s come together as a community to make someone’s dream come true.”

Litton said the owners of Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations, Steve Camden and Michael Haldaman, are passionate about what they do and want to give back to the community.

“They love giving back and love taking something and restoring it,” said Litton. “The goal is to have the community nominate people they think deserves something like this. We have all the local part stores and local shops who will be donating parts and labor.”

Litton said she has seen some really great submissions so far and can’t wait to see what else comes in. She added there is also a GoFundMe set up and it can be found on their Facebook page for those who would like to donate. For more information, questions or to become a sponsor can call 573-327-9888.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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