Wednesday, 27 June 2018 18:26

MO Body Shop’s ‘Project Pay It Forward’ Enters Voting Process

Written by Renee Bronaugh, Daily Journal Online
A bio board is set up at Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations in Park Hills, MO, where people can come in to learn about each nominee and cast their vote. A bio board is set up at Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations in Park Hills, MO, where people can come in to learn about each nominee and cast their vote. Renee Bronaugh, Daily Journal


Several businesses have teamed up as part of Project Pay It Forward, a contest giving Park Hills, MO-area community members an opportunity to win a full restoration of an older project vehicle.

Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations said they received nearly 100 entries in the contest and have narrowed it down to the top 10.

“It was a process to go through everyone’s stories, and there were some long nominations,” said Steve Camden and Michael Haldaman, owners of Mid-America. “It’s very emotional, and everyone we have met has been an absolute honor to meet.”

Camden and Haldaman said it has been an amazing experience, and the best part has been getting to meet these people. Everyone should watch the videos and get to know these top 10 nominees from the mouths of the people they have impacted most.

“One guy said he was just a normal guy who just works and takes care of his family," a spokesperson said. “Every single one of these guys are just normal guys, and they go to work and take care of their family, but they forget about themselves. They are so humble; it’s overwhelming. We are really excited to work with everybody to do this.”

Mid-America owners said everything is on their website and that there are three ways to vote for a winner. They explained that everyone can vote all three ways. The most popular way to vote is through their Facebook page or on the Low Cash Classics Facebook page.

“They will like the post on the page to vote---not the YouTube video, but our post. The third way to vote is in person at any one of the voting stations. On both our website and Facebook page are videos of each contestant’s story and a bio.”

This gives everyone an opportunity to get to know each contestant and decide who will get their vote. At the end they will tally up the likes on each person’s post on the Facebook pages and then will count the paper votes. Voting ends on July 2.

“We have gotten so many phone calls since the original story ran and it was picked up nationally,” a spokesperson said. “We haven’t had too many people coming in the shop to vote, but from what I heard, the other voting locations have been pretty busy.”

One of the biggest things they want everyone to know is that while they are facilitating this project, it is just their way of allowing the community to give back to someone. It is community-nominated, voted and sponsored.

“We are the ones who are in the middle and don’t have a whole lot to give back, but we can do this as a community. We really appreciate all of the support. There have been people coming in, other shops and other businesses who want to be a part of this. This is exciting. Everyone is so excited about it and no matter who wins, every single person who was nominated is a phenomenal person.”

Three teenaged boys came into the shop and started talking about one of the nominees. They talked about how one of the nominees saved their lives.

“This is what it is all about---being able to honor and give recognition to somebody who has really given back to everybody,” the spokesperson said. “Everyone is coming together for this and that is what it is all about.”

Mid-America is planning several events throughout the entire process to help fund the project. They also have a GoFundMe set up.

“We plan to have decals made of Project Pay It Forward, Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations and Low Cash Classics. We are looking for someone who can make T-shirts for us as well. Everything we make from decal/T-shirt sales will go into a bank account for Project Pay It Forward."

The owners of Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations are passionate about what they do and want to give back to the community. The goal of this project is to have the community nominate people and vote for whom they think deserves something like this.

Below are the 10 nominees:

Ken Jenkerson, of Desloge, has a 1955 Chevy truck that he bought not long after he married his wife. He delivered mail in Bonne Terre for more than 20 years and took care of his children while his wife went back to college. He paid for both of his children to go to college. He felt that the money he had saved up for his truck restoration would be best spent going on missions trips for disaster relief. These trips were funded and his truck was left to sit.

Ken Jenkerson web

Ken Jenkerson; photo provided by Ashley Litton

David Pratte is the volunteer fire chief in Bonne Terre. He purchased a 1948 Plymouth car a few years ago with plans to restore it so he could use it to teach people about fire safety. He not only puts his life on the line for people in his community, but puts his personal life on hold any time the phone rings. Pratte has a dream of making this car the fire chief's car for parades and to travel and teach people about fire safety.

David Pratte web

David Pratte; photo provided by Ashley Litton

Mike Ryan, of Farmington, has a 1968 Chevy Camaro and has been serving his community through his job at the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department for 19 years. Prior to joining the Sheriff's Department, Ryan served faithfully in the United States Army. He owned his dream car once before and sold it to give the money away to help someone else who needed the money more than he did.

Mike Ryan web

Mike Ryan; photo provided by Ashley Litton

Chad Burns, of Park Hills, owns a 1966 Dodge Charger. He has had the money saved up a couple of times to restore his Charger, but decided instead to put that money into a program called Youth Builders of Missouri. This program helps children who are in the foster care system and cannot attend public schools. The program helps them develop skills needed to obtain a job and gain employment once they leave the foster care system.

Chad Burns web

Chad Burns; photo provided by Ashley Litton

Mike Petty, of Desloge, owns a 1965 Ford F100 and has served in the military for 18 years. He has traveled all over with his family. During his time in the military, he hurt his back but continued to serve until he retired. When he came back to Missouri, he chose to start a business working with grieving families and engraving headstones. Despite his pain and suffering, he worked for years until his body decided that it wouldn't allow him to continue to work. He still does whatever he can to help his friends and family, and never once has he asked for anything in return.

Mike Petty web

Mike Petty; photo provided by Ashley Litton

Mark "Jose" Byers, of Desloge, has a 1978 Lil Red Express that is his pride and joy. He purchased his truck right out of high school, which was brand-new off of the lot. He took his wife on their first date in the truck to take her to the beach. He would love to be able to take her to the beach in the Lil Red Express again. He spent all of his extra time coaching sports for the local children and would do anything for anyone if they needed him.

Mike Jose Byers web

Mark "Jose" Byers; photo provided by Ashley Litton

Kevin Bell, of Bonne Terre, has a 1954 Chevy pickup truck. He had a neighbor, Mr. Ellis, who had fallen ill from working in the mines for so many years but wasn't really up for receiving help when he needed it. However, Bell didn't take no for an answer and became really good friends with his neighbor. He helped him all hours of the day and night until the day that he passed from mesothelioma. While Bell was mourning the loss of his good friend, his wife approached him at the funeral and told him she had something for him. Ellis had a 1954 Chevy truck that he had dreamed of restoring before he passed away and had always talked about it with Bell. His friend left him the truck and instead of fixing it up, he has given his time and money to helping low-income families in St. Francois County and has done the electrical work on nearly 200 houses free of charge for families who needed it.

Kevin Bell web

Kevin Bell; photo provided by Ashley Litton

Mike Alford, of Farmington, has a 1954 Chevy pickup truck and works for the school district. He has a passion for people and goes out of his way to make sure that everyone around him is taken care of before doing anything for himself. After work and on his off days, he goes to the homes of the elderly, does their yard work and visits them.


Mike Alford web

Mike Alford; photo provided by Ashley Litton

James Coleman, of Bismarck, has a 1924 Model T that has been in his family for generations. He is passionate about the history of his car and about his town. He has a love for his mother and has done so much for his friends and family. He even sort of "adopts" people into his family and gives the food off his table and the shirt off of his back to help someone in need.

James Coleman web

James Coleman; photo provided by Ashley Litton

Jerry Bingham, of Bonne Terre, has a 1948 Ford Flatbed Truck that was given to him as a gift in high school. His son, Sikeston, nominated him, even though he is overseas. Bingham has taken so much of his time and money and given it to anyone who needs it. In the process, he has let his own wants and needs slide right by. There have been times where his family had things going on and he stayed home to work just so his wife and children could afford to go. He drops everything when his sister calls and runs to help anyone when they need him.


Jerry Bingham web

Jerry Bingham; photo provided by Ashley Litton


Places to vote in person:

Bonne Terre Police Department

118 N Allen St

Bonne Terre, MO 63628

Desloge Police Department

1000 N Desloge Dr.

Desloge, MO 63601

Park Hills Police Department

7 Municipal Dr

Park Hills, MO 63601

Fredricktown City Hall

124 W Main St.

Fredericktown, MO 63645

Mid-America Auto Body & Restorations, LLC

101 B Production Dr.

Park Hills, MO 63601

St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department 

1550 Doubet Rd.

Farmington, MO 63640

For more information, questions or to become a sponsor, call 573-327-988

We thank Daily Journal Online for reprint permission.

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