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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Kathy Custer

Photo courtesy Kathy Custer

When Kathy Custer drives around, she gets shakas aimed in her direction and fellow drivers honk at her (in a friendly way!). She’s even been saluted and, she swears, has gotten out of tickets.

It’s not just because she is the owner of childcare service Keiki Sitters and a well-known community volunteer. All of this attention is because of what she’s driving around: a 1994 Chevy Silverado that boasts the only OBAMA Hawaii license plate in the world.

Custer obtained the car after the original owner, who had bought the license plate on a hunch during the last presidential campaign, gifted it to her. Now, as President Obama draws near the end of the term, Custer is putting the car – and the license plate – up for auction on eBay. Bidding started at 99 cents and continues at obamacarhawaii.com through Election Day, Nov. 6.

“Oh my gosh, it has been so much fun!” Custer says of her experience driving the car. “I am a little sad to see it go.”

Although she loves the car, Custer decided to sell it after spending time with siblings Katie and Logan Garren from California when they were visiting their uncles in the Islands this summer. Custer met them through a friend and was immediately impressed with the young adults’ ambition. Katie, 20, currently attends a community college and ultimately wants to start her own business, while Logan, 17, hopes to be an electrical engineer.

At least those were the Garrens’ plans until recently. Their mother, who also is raising two younger children on her own, can no longer afford tuition.

“(Katie) has to drop out,” Custer says. “She can’t even afford next semester … If she doesn’t get funding, that is the end of it.”

But Custer is making sure that that’s not the end. After hearing the Garrens’ story, Custer decided to sell the car – and donate the proceeds to Katie and Logan to help them pay for college. Katie hopes to transfer to a four-year university, and Logan will graduate high school this spring.

“I am really encouraging them to go to UH (Manoa),” Custer says. “It would be great to keep the money in Hawaii.”

For bids of more than $100,000, 50 percent of those funds will be donated to a charity of the bidder’s choice.

Custer says that she envisions Katie and Logan making great contributions in the future and hopes the project will help them reach their goals.

“When I told them that they had a chance of continuing their education through the sale … they were instantly filled with excited energy,” Custer says. “They couldn’t sit still, they were so excited.”

Bids for the car and its OBAMA license plate can be made now through Nov. 6 at obamacarhawaii.com, where you also can view photos and read about the car. For more information or if you need help setting up your bid account, call Custer at 861-7294.

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