The final Operation Zero seminar for the 2008-2009 school year ended with Erica Amato’s name being drawn as the winner of the 2009 Hyundai Accent. This is the 21st year the Kiwanis Club has sponsored the program and donated a car to a safe senior. The drawing was held April 29 in the Glen Este High School Performing Arts Center.
Amato called her mother from behind the wheel of her new car to tell her the news.
“Guess what? I won the car, mom,” said Amato.
“We started this program 21 years ago when eight to 10 West Clermont students died in several traffic accidents,” said Bob Grethel. “We wanted to help curtail traffic fatalities and teach students safe driving practices.”
"The program kicked off on Aug. 25 and ended on April 28," said Grethel. "There were 130 seniors in the program and a total of 800 students in both schools. On April 28, the seniors names were checked through law enforcement computers and only those students with spotless driving records were eligible to win the car. There were 36 students who qualified."
The Operation Zero Committee is made up of school officials, Kiwanis Club members, coordinators from both Glen Este and Amelia high schools, school resource police officers and others. The committee plans the seminars with nationally known speakers who address safe driving practices including driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and driving recklessly. Seminars also include instruction using videos and DVDs.
The Kiwanis Club has been purchasing vehicles from Kerry Hyundai and Chevrolet, in Alexandria, Ky., over the past few years.
"With the economy like it is, Kerry has been giving us the best deals. We got the car at their cost for about $13,000," said Grethel. "The winner has to pay sales tax and the licensing fees which amount to about $800."
The Kiwanis Club holds three fund-raisers each year to help cover the cost of the vehicle. A golf outing is planned for Monday, Aug. 3, at Elklick Run, an open wrestling tournament is held in the spring each year at Amelia High School and during the Clermont County Fair, the club sponsors a Jr. Fair Horse Show.
In addition to the drawing for the vehicle, names of all the students who participated in the program were entered in a drawing for $25 Speedway gas cards.