KILGORE — Zhyon Bell’s birthday is next week, but he got his biggest present Thursday: a new Chevrolet Trax.

The Kilgore College business administration student took home the top prize at the second annual Cruise for Success car giveaway — much to the delight of his KC football teammates, who swarmed him in a celebratory group hug when they realized he had won.

“I’m excited. I didn’t think I was going to win it! I didn’t think I was going to win it, but I’m blessed to win it,” Bell said.

Bell, who is from Porter, said after KC, he wants to transfer to a four-year school to continue his education.

He was one of a number of students who qualified for the Cruise for Success program.

Under the program, students have the chance to compete for monthly prizes and the ultimate prize of a new car by doing things that will lead to academic success and the completion of their degrees. Thursday’s drawing in the middle of the Lee Mall/Mike Miller Plaza was between the top 10 point-earners.

KC students Jada Hood, Maya Scheitel-Taylor, Mckenzie Brown, Rahmena Henderson, Michael Jones, Sherwin Keys, Farah Shaaban and Alisha Parker took home $500 each after their names were drawn from a bowl.

The last two, Bell and Vianey Galvan, got to draw for a car key fob. The student with the car fob that worked took home the Trax, provided by Patterson Chevrolet of Kilgore, and $200 worth of fuel cards from Brookshire’s while the runner-up took home $1,000.

Bell hit his button, it worked and he screamed in excitement. Galvan, too, couldn’t help but get excited for Bell as his teammates rushed to him.

“It means a lot because I don’t have a car right now,” Bell said. “I’ve been wanting a car too, so this is very big. My birthday’s next week, so it’s an early birthday present.”

Thursday’s drawing also included a pep rally, with the KC drumline, the Rangerette Swingsters, the KC Twirlers and local high school dance and cheer teams. KC graduate and NHRA top fuel dragster Steve Torrence was also on hand as the celebrity guest.

Torrence told the students gathered Thursday that KC helped him immensely.

“The opportunity that I had to stay at home, get my life on track and really just get a good education and a good headstart — I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a race car driver, but sometimes you need to get your ducks in a row before you take off and set on that trail of life,” he said.

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