In a way, Whirlpool's John Taylor says he scored a jackpot when Maytag was acquired a dozen years ago by Whirlpool bringing him and his family here from Iowa. Tonight, for the first time in his life he scored another jackpot of sorts when he won United Way of Southwest Michigan's Win-A-Car Challenge from Tyler Automotive in Stevensville.

Taylor was one of seven finalists drawn to take a shot at firing up the engine of a brand new Honda on the showroom floor at Tyler Automotive. While it was exciting for him, he quickly let the air out of the tires of five of his fellow challengers when his key fob proved to be the correct one to turn over the engine of the gleaming white car, making him the instant winner of a two-year lease on that car or the car of his choice in the sub-compact category from the Tyler Automotive line up.

Saying almost immediately upon feeling the engine fire up, "I've never won anything in my life before," he was almost at a loss for words as a showroom of onlookers and a Facebook Live audience well beyond the dealership witnessed his victory.

Taylor, a GIS specialist for Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor was the second of the seven finalists to draw a key fob and take a shot at starting the engine. Colleen Rutter, who works for Berrien County, was unsuccessful when her name was drawn to be the first to give it a try.

Thanks to Taylor's turnover, the other five were left on the sidelines with consolation prizes and no change to draw another fob and take a run at the car. The others in the running included:

  • Dalry Payne from Andrews University

  • Stan Strzyzykowski from Spectrum Health Lakeland

  • Cecilia Diaz from Whirlpool

  • Pamela Crossman from Spectrum Health Lakeland

  • Scott Hollingshead from Indiana Michigan Power Company

Taylor says, "The first lady got in there and nothing happened, and I kinda figured since I was second it wouldn’t happen either. I’ve never won anything, especially nothing even imagined to be this big, so it was pretty exciting, and it started…it just started." He adds, "I saw the GoPro camera mounted on the steering column and wondered later what my face looked like right when it fired up!" We'll probably all get a look at that video when United Way of Southwest Michigan rolls it out.

Taylor says he really enjoys living here, noting, "I moved here twelve years ago with the Maytag acquisition, and really enjoy this whole area. Southwest Michigan is a fantastic place. I came from a fantastic place and now I’m in another fantastic place."

In addition to his philanthropy through giving to the United Way Capital Campaign to earn a shot at the car tonight, Taylor says, "I do a lot of things with Twin City Players, a great community theater. Great family people." He is married with three kids, who, he says, "don’t live here but love to come visit, especially in the summer time." Now, they'll have a new ride to cruise the shore in as well.

Tyler Automotive's Chris Tyler helped spice up the campaign for the second year running through the special incentive of the Win a Car Challenge wherein every donor who contributed at least $3 a week throughout the year had a chance to be one of the finalists to try for the free two year lease. Tyler says he just likes to help the campaign because it is so critical to the success of the entire community and just adds to the excitement and anticipation in the community, while also adding dramatically to the organization's ability to make an impact in the entire community. His dealership is located at 4356 Red Arrow Highway in Stevensville.

United Way says that the impact of $3 a week adds up and is capable of providing:

  • 34 meals for someone dealing with food insecurity in the region...

  • 2 months of support to help a young child learn to read...

  • 1 free book for a child every month for five full years...

  • support for two individuals to address their mental health...

Ryan CheeversComment