(Photo by Scott Welton, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston D.A.R.E. program has a new set of wheels.
The new D.A.R.E. car, a 2008 Toyota Scion, was unveiled and presented to D.A.R.E. officers during a car show Saturday evening at Carnell's Collision Repair.
Sgt. Shirley Porter, who is in charge of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety's school resource officer and Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs, said she and D.A.R.E. officer Daniel Adams were at the car show as it included the Sikeston D.A.R.E. program's award-winning Ford Mustang.
"Then all of a sudden a new D.A.R.E. car came around the corner," she recalled. "There were a lot of kids there. They thought it was neat and, of course, they were ready to sit in it -- they always want to sit in the D.A.R.E. car, turn the siren and the lights on."
"It was a big deal -- it was a big hit with everybody, especially the D.A.R.E. officers," said David Carnell, owner of Carnell's Collision Repair. "When Shirley saw it, actually tears came to her eyes because she was so surprised and overwhelmed. And Danny Adams, the D.A.R.E. officer, was just beside himself -- grinning from ear to ear."
"We've been in need of a new D.A.R.E. car for some time now," Porter said.
She explained that while the D.A.R.E. Mustang still looks great, it is in need of a mechanical restoration and has been retired except for parades and special appearances.
While the old D.A.R.E. car was a "wild and crazy" version of a classic black and white police cruiser, the new car's style can best be described as hot.
"We wanted to build something that the kids could really relate to," Carnell said. "We did a custom paint job with 'real flames' airbrushed on. It's got skulls that are hidden into the flames -- skulls are really popular right now. It's got custom-built skull grills."
Carnell said the bottom grill is built so when the car's fog lights are turned on they will project their shape. "Its kind of like the Batman light but instead of a Batman image it will show a skull image," he said.
In addition to being popular, the skull and flames theme "kind of gives a double message: Don't do drugs because it will burn you," Carnell said. "It's also got a slogan on the back, 'Don't burn your life away.'"
"I think it's an awesome car," Porter said. "It's an eye catcher for the kids and of course that is the main thing -- to show them that you can have something nice without doing illegal activities."
The new car was purchased by Brad Bedell, a Sikeston businessman.
"He approached me and said, 'David, let's go in partners on this project.' He just left it up to me -- pitched me the keys and said, 'Do what you need to do,'" Carnell said. "We started on it about two months ago in the planning stages. Once I had the idea in my mind of what I wanted to achieve, I spent probably 200 hours putting it together, building the vehicle."
Also pitching in were Slushers Downtown Tire & Auto Service, which donated wheels and tires, and Kinder Sign, which donated stencils and vinyl work, according to Carnell.
"There were a lot of donations that went toward getting that vehicle -- there was a lot of community help that I was unaware of," Porter said. "It was a joy to know that the community cares so much about the program that they would do that."
"We're just excited about the new car and hopefully it will make a positive impact on some young lives," Carnell said.