Local couple wins RV from Reader's Digest 'cheering' contest
Shawn and Michele Mahowald will be heading to Mille Lacs Lake this Labor Day weekend in their new Coachman Freelander RV, compliments of Reader's Digest's "We Hear You, America" contest.
Earlier this year, Park Rapids area residents were encouraged to e-mail votes to "cheer" for the city in the national competition.
The winning metro was to receive promotional opportunities via the national magazine and a $10,000 cash prize.
It didn't happen for Park Rapids, despite daily reminders from Hubbard County Regional Economic Development and an enthusiastic corps of voters.
While casting her votes, Michele had scrolled down the page to learn she could throw her hat in the ring for prizes.
The certified letter notifying her of winning the 2011 RV, valued at $68,000, arrived July 2.
Elated, she phoned her husband, who handed the phone to a co-worker, skeptical of its authenticity.
"I didn't believe it," he said, given the number of scams reported.
Michele called the number she'd been referred to in the letter. No answer. Unbeknownst to her, the entire staff was on two weeks' vacation after the letter was sent.
Finally, July 11 - Michele's birthday - someone returned her call. She'd left a woeful "it's-my-birthday, please-call-back" message asking for information.
Paperwork ensued. The wait continued.
But finally, Sunday night, the motor coach rolled into town, driving right by Petro Pete's, the Mahowald's service station on Highway 71 south, where they were waiting.
The delivery crew had made a drop off at Thielen Motors then stopped on Highway 71, calling to notify them of their arrival.
"We're here; where are you?" they asked from a block away.
At last! Mahowalds met their motor home.
The RV sleeps eight, but on its maiden voyage, it will be home to just two.
"No dogs. No kids," Shawn said.
"I think we will be getting a lot of use from it," he predicts.