Barbara Stepp used her impressive record of driving Fords to make the finals in a contest for a 2013 Ford Escape.
The 69-year-old retired kindergarten teacher wrote a short essay on what she'd do if she won an Escape, Ford's crossover SUV.
"I wrote that I would drive around the mountains and people would see the 2013 Escape," she said. "I mentioned that it had lots of new things about it."
The clincher may have been her brand loyalty.
"I've driven a Ford for 53 years," she said. "I've had a Mustang, Explorers, Escapes, even a pickup truck. I've had just about everything Ford makes at one time or another."
A native of Marion, she has driven everything from sporty classics to muscular SUVs.
"My first Ford was a 1957 Skyliner," she said. "It had a hard top and the trunk raised up and the top went in it to make it a convertible. Don't I wish I had it now?"
"My first four-wheel drive was a Bronco II, before that we had a '55 T-bird, then a Bronco and then Explorers for probably four, five, six years, and then I went into the Escape."
She spent a lot of time and creativity on her entry.
Playing off the idea of escape, she made a prison-type shirt with the word printed on it. She made a magnetic sign featuring an acrostic for the letters: Elegance, Safe, Comfort, Awesome, Performance, Economical.
"As I drive around the town and mountains of North Carolina heads will turn to check it out," she wrote in her essay.
If she doesn't win the contest, she's already won over the skeptics in her family.
"Everybody laughed at me," she said. "'Sure, mom. Ten people across the United States and you're going to be one of them.'"
Her daughters are Tiffany Marshall, married to Jim, and Tamara Miller, married to Jeff, and her grandchildren are Wesleigh, a freshman at Hendersonville High School, Hank Marshall, a freshman at Appalachian State, and Beck Miller, a sophomore at Wake Forest.
Retired after 30 years teaching at Balfour and Clear Creek elementary schools, Stepp still works four days a week as a reading tutor at Clear Creek. She was inducted in the Henderson County Education Hall of Fame in 2010.
The competition's tough. A school maintenance worker sent a picture of his SUV covered in leaves and pine needles, "My Ford was hit by a tree in hurricane Sandy," he said. A young mother of five married to an Army officer wrote that she would love to drive her new Escape to the airport to meet her husband when he returns from deployment.
Voters in the web contest must first log in with an email address and then register. The contest also offers $50 iTunes cards as instant prizes for voters. Stepp is the last contestant shown among the 10 finalists, over the caption "Fords Good Better Best."
The voting ends Jan. 13.
The website is https://ford.promo.eprize.com/escape.
Commissioners tilt toward Auburn
A Tar Heel born celebrates UNC win