In February, a Texas Toyota dealership and The Genesis Center of Kaufman County joined forces toÂ raffle off a fully restored 1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo. Donated by aÂ local resident battling cancer, the entirety of the proceeds from the draw were designated specifically to help fund the center. Genesis is a faith-based shelter which also provides job placement, parenting classes, financialÂ management programs, spiritual counselling, material needs, and medical referrals toÂ women and children in crisis. It is funded largely through the church or via direct donations.
All in all, the dealership managed to raise more thanÂ $50,000 for the center. However, when Rebecca Rawl was announced as the winnerÂ of the raffle in April, many stated that the name was suspiciously close to that of the wife of sales manager Danny Rawls. Toyota of Rockwall was quick to rectify its mistake, specifying that the name given had been a mistake and “Rebecca Rawls” had in fact been the lottery winner.
As you can imagine, this did not go over well.
â€œThe Supra was truly an answer to prayer,â€� said Pastor Nancy Schoenle of The Genesis Center in a February interview with Blue Ribbon News. â€œI had been asking God for something different, something unique to help us touch more lives â€“ then God put it on this donorâ€™s heart to give his car to The Genesis Center.â€�
â€œI thought God must have a sense of humor to give us such a race car. Only about 10,000 of this particular model were ever made,â€� she said. â€œI called my friends at Toyota of Rockwall â€“ and kudos to them because they are amazing. They led efforts to refurbish the car, giving it new leather seats, new paint, new tires, new tint â€“ all at no charge.â€�
The Supra in question received a bit of a makeover to ensure it wasÂ ready for the raffle. After being donated to the dealership, it underwent an alleged $17,000 in pro bono work to restore it to a desirable stock condition. Local area body shops and Toyota of Rockwell all spent weeks preparing it, after which it spent several days in the dealership’s showroom to advertise the event.
â€œWhen Nancy came to me to discuss ways she could earn money to benefit Genesis, I knew we could help by showcasing the Supra in our showroom,â€� said Barbara Jackson, who owns the Toyota dealership along with her husband, Steve.
However, that positive publicity turned to scathing criticism on April 14th, after the dealership announced Rawls as the winner. Toyota of Rockwell’s Facebook page has been awash with negative comments and accusatory language. It has since shut the page down.
Prior to suspending the account (but after the influx of complaints), Jalopnik cited a posting where the dealership explained that Rebecca had pooled her money with others for a total ofÂ 90 tickets and was the legitimate winner. However, it isÂ common practice to prohibit employees, organizers, or their families from participating in raffles like this oneÂ â€” for reasons that should be obvious.
Toyota of Rockwell’s current claim is that Rawls and company had always intended to resell the Supra and donate the money back into the shelter.Â The church’s website echoes the dealer posting, although it refers to the winner as “Rebecca Rawl.”
The Supra has since appeared on eBay on April 23rd, at what appears to be theÂ Rockwell dealership,Â posted by the user “rawlsdanny09.”Â It was initially priced at $35,000 with the starting bid held at $15,000, but the listing was ended within the first twenty-four hours. While it’s still viewable, the website has it marked as “no longer available.” That’s a shame, because unmolested Toyota Supras are hard to find and it’s doubtful that shoppers would care that this particular example was involved in a church-related scandal.