Desert Valley Elementary School teacher Karen Johnson is shocked as Colorado River Schools Supt. Riley Frei reveals that she has won a new car. Findlay Motor Co., provided the Buick Regal, with an estimated value of $33,000 as part of the districts’ annual educator appreciation function. Also given out were gift cards provided by local businesses, governing board members and the Bullhead City Noon Kiwanis Club. The latter donated $7,500 worth of gift cards.

BULLHEAD CITY — It wasn’t Karen Johnson’s turn to drive the carpool Friday.

Therefore, she did not have proof of auto insurance on her.

She didn’t expect to need it, and found herself scrambling to get it, after she was announced as the winner of a brand new Buick Regal.

Findlay Motor Co., working with the Colorado River schools, provided the vehicle to cap off  “the Great Giveaway,” as part of the districts’ annual educator appreciation function.

Johnson, a physical education teacher at Desert Valley Elementary School, struggled to find words after she was announced as the winner.

“I’m speechless,” she said. “I’m usually not at a loss for words, but I’m overcome with joy.”

After a variety of gift cards and a couple of trips were given away,  Supt. Riley Frei asked the hundreds of district employees gathered inside the Mohave High School auditorium to step outside. The crowd gathered in the courtyard, where Frei and Findlay community relations and sales manager Shane Pollock told them that someone was about to receive a mind-blowing reward.

Johnson said she was excited that “someone” would get a car.

Frei discussed the process of finding the most deserving candidate, and talked about someone who was “absolutely phenomenal” at her job, and gave her all every day.

Johnson said she had “zero inclination” that Frei was talking about her.

Then, he said her name.

“I think it was a feeling of maybe shock and disbelief,” Johnson said.” I was just taken aback that I was nominated or even considered for such a prize. The fact that Findlay gave away a vehicle of that caliber was extremely impressive to me.”

She is wrapping up her ninth year with the Bullhead City Elementary School District. Johnson came to the Tri-state from Michigan and said she has grown to love it here.

“This area has truly stolen my heart,” she said. “The students I work with every day, they’re why I’m here. Not for a car, not for giveaways.

“It’s about the students and the community.”

Pollock said the dealership saw the giveaway as a way to show appreciation for teachers.

“They’re the backbone of our community,” he said. “The people we trust with our kids.”

Teachers Kory Burgess and David Lipinski were rewarded for bringing in the most tax-credit donations. Burgess received a cruise to Baja California and Lipinski an air travel, hotel and ticket package for a visit to an Arizona Diamondbacks game.

Johnson said Saturday that she has already taken the turbocharged sedan out for a spin.

“The first thing this morning, I checked out there to make sure yesterday was actually real,” she said.

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