DECATUR — It started as a casual conversation between two assistant coaches at a basketball summer camp and eventually led to a donation from an unlikely source.
During a summer camp at Rogers Heritage High School, Mike Eckels asked Katy Sojka if she knew of a good place to buy a new vehicle. Eckels’ beloved old 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup was burning oil, and he knew it was time to let it go.
A text message to a local sales rep and Eckels was sent to review a new vehicle the following week.
The Monday following basketball camp, Eckels traveled to Landers Toyota in northwest Arkansas to meet with Juan Mason, a sales representative for the Rogers-based used-car dealership.
Sojka had used Mason to buy two vehicles and she knew Eckels would be treated well by him – and he was.
Eckels was looking for another truck, but with the struggling economy, used trucks were out of its price range. Ultimately, Mason hooked up Eckels with a 2016 Chevy Equinox that Eckels was able to drive home that same afternoon.
Toyota has a program in place whereby if one of its customers refers a new customer and that customer purchases a vehicle, they will receive a rebate. A month after Eckels purchased the Equinox, Mason contacted Sojka about the discount. She requested that it be donated to the Decatur Lady Bulldog basketball team, which she helps coach.
On September 19, with the entire senior women’s basketball team at the university wearing playing uniforms, Mason presented a check for $600 from Landers Toyota of NWA to the Decatur Lady Bulldog basketball program.
Girls Basketball Head Coach Fess Thompson, Katy Sojka, Mike Eckels and the entire Decatur High School Girls Basketball Team thanked Juan Mason and Landers Toyota of Northwest Arkansas for the generous donation that will be used to purchase spandex shorts to wear under the girls uniform shorts.