John R. White had a sparkle in his eye after winning a 2017 Chevrolet Spark on Wednesday.

The 93-year-old Rockville resident and his wife Jane, 92, were both surprised and pleased that the retired engineer’s annual contribution to the United Way of the Wabash Valley resulted in him being one of three finalists in a drawing for the new car. 

Because neither John nor Jane White still drive, the car will likely go to a grandchild, the Whites said.

“I’m still dazed. I’ve never won anything in my life, except for my wife,” John White said in the lobby of Terre Haute Chevrolet.

Jack Patterson, general manager of Terre Haute Chevrolet congratulated the couple for winning the car, valued at $15,925. Patterson noted it is the third year in a row that the third key drawn was the one to start the car.

Beth Haley of Terre Haute was the first to select a key, and the first to be disappointed. An employee of Covered Bridge Special Education district, Haley said she always makes a donation to the United Way, and she did not even remember that she would be entered in the drawing until she was notified of her selection.

Don Sorbello, a Shelburn resident who is employed by Hamilton Center in Terre Haute, was the second donor to try his key. Once the Spark did not start, everyone knew White had the winning key.

After he made his way from his seat to the auto and slipped inside, he turned over the engine to applause.

”I was okay with going last,” White said of the drawing.

”If they won it, I didn’t have to get up,” he said pragmatically about getting up from his chair.

Jane White said the couple gave up driving at the insistence of a daughter. They still have a car, though. As for their new car, it will likely be given to a grandchild, she said.


The Spark will officially be awarded to White at the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Annual Meeting on Jan. 24  in Knoerle Center at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

As for the campaign giving incentive program, it was the sixth straight year that Terre Haute Chevrolet has donated a car.

Any donation of at last $25 from a new donor, or a donation from a previous United Way donor that increased by $25, earned an automatic entry into the drawing.

This year, the United Way also added an incentive to local workplaces by giving double entries for every donor at a workplace that increased its total number of donors by 20 percent from 2015.

United Way’s Danielle Isbell said there were 1,300 donors who qualified for the drawing. That added up to 8,287 entries for the car. New money pledged was $191,891 for the new campaign year.

Sorbello and Haley will get a consolation prize of free auto detailing.

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