Local Teen Receives Free Car at Vista Rod Run
Freelance Writer Matt Simpson
For the third time in as many years, TJ Crossman of TJ Crossman’s Auto Repair in Vista gave away a car to a deserving local resident. This time around, however, things were different – and in more ways than one.
On Sunday, Vista’s 28th Annual Rod Run hit the streets of downtown and served, for the first time ever, as the perfect setting for this year’s giveaway. As car enthusiasts and Vista community members looked on, TJ Crossman handed the keys to a newly renovated 2002 Nissan Altima over to the winner, Juan Soberanes.
Each year, TJ Crossman receives nominations from community members for outstanding people who give back to the community and truly make a difference. A panel of judges is selected to rifle through the submissions and select a nominee who, above all else, is deserving of a new car. For this year’s judges, one nomination stood out in a major way.
A recent graduate of Vista High School, Juan Soberanes has a resume that is longer and more impressive than that of those who are three times his age.
Soberanes has served as a Platoon Sergeant and Recruit Instructor for the North San Diego Young Marines, interned for Congressman Darrell Issa, served as an AFJROTC leader, and been named Vista High School Student of the Year all before his 19th birthday. He also managed to find time in his day to run track and cross country for his high school. While the list of accolades and achievements are impressive, the most impressive thing about Juan Soberanes can’t be put on a resume. He is driven, hard-working, and intelligent beyond his years. His desire to improve his life is remarkable, but pales in comparison to his desire to improve the lives of others. “It’s just how I was raised,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to give back.
When asked about the feeling of receiving a car for free, Soberanes was quick to remind me of what really mattered.
“What people said about me in the nominations is what really got me. Just to know that I’ve made an impact like that hit me the most.”
In an emotional speech on Sunday, TJ Crossman held back tears while surprising Juan with his new ride. “People like you make it an honor to do this,” said Crossman. “Keep up the good work and please invite me to the White House when you get there!”
Juan Soberanes received the prestigious Falcon’s Scholarship and will be attending the Air Force Academy at no cost after completion of prep school classes that begin this month. The car will be an enormous help in his drive up to Santa Barbara.
TJ Crossman was as enthusiastic about Juan Soberanes and his accomplishments as Soberanes was about the gift he received. Both of these men share the gift of humility and the community of Vista is lucky to call them Vistans.