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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

D.A.R.E. car is still a winner

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Shirley Porter, Sikeston D.A.R.E. officer, displays two first place trophies earned recently in area car shows
(photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON - The "new" has worn off on the Sikeston D.A.R.E. car, but the "shiny" is still there.

"It's a '94 Ford Mustang," said Shirley Porter, Sikeston D.A.R.E. officer.

Despite its age, the Sikeston D.A.R.E. car was recently recognized yet again for its sharp looks with two first place trophies in its category at car shows this year.

The first trophy was awarded June 1 at a large car show in Oran. The Sikeston D.A.R.E. car then received its second first-place award this year at a June 15 benefit car show in Bentonville, Ark.

"The one in Bentonville was a fund-raiser," said Porter. "They were raising money for the fire department for a piece of equipment."

The car has done a lot of cruising since becoming part of the Sikeston D.A.R.E. program in 1995, but is holding up well Porter said.

The inevitable nicks and scratches are touched up by David Carnell who originally painted the car. "The former (Sikeston police) Chief Leist said, 'Come up with a wild and crazy design,'" Carnell recalled. "And I said, 'I can do wild and crazy.'"

Carnell said the design "beat out every D.A.R.E. car in the world" in an international Law Enforcement Magazine contest in 1996. The next year the car took second place at a state D.A.R.E. conference.

Capturing the attention of the Mattel toy company, the Sikeston D.A.R.E. car ended up being selected as the pilot to launch Mattel's special series of six Matchbox D.A.R.E. cars. "It was the number-one collectable for six months," said Carnell adding that he recently saw a couple of the Sikeston D.A.R.E. Matchbox cars priced at $150 each.

The car is driven for the most part by Porter. "Usually when you see the car, you see me," she said. "I truly enjoy it and it gives me pleasure to see the kids are learning something."

Porter has been with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program here since it began in 1989. "I was one of the first two D.A.R.E. instructors in Sikeston," she recalled. "It takes the efforts of not just D.A.R.E. but all the other drug prevention programs together to make it work."