Richard Rivera Jr. never thought he’d win the glistening white 2019 Chevrolet Sonic at the Drive for Perfect Attendance sponsored by Gillman Chevrolet Harlingen.

“I can’t believe it. Like, I feel great,” said Rivera, 16, whose name was drawn from a box of 582 names of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders who had perfect attendance.

The event was held last night at Gillman Chevrolet at 16408 U.S. 83. Students from Harlingen High School, Harlingen High School South, Harlingen School of Health Professions and Early College High School were recognized for their excellent attendance.

“The Gillman Companies has partnered with the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District,” said Patrick York, chief operating officer for Gillman Chevrolet.

“What we have decided to do is offer an initiative for students that have perfect attendance while they are in high school,” York said. “It’s my understanding that there were 582 students, which is outstanding. I believe it’s the highest that we have experienced since we have been doing this program.”

The event drew hundreds of hopeful young car owners and their families. Cheerleaders from Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South cheered to the loud beat of Selena’s iconic “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” School mascots danced around in colorful costumes generating even more excitement for the evening’s activities.

This is the sixth year Gillman and HCISD has partnered for the program.

“We’re super excited,” said HCISD Superintendent Art Cavazos.

“It’s a culminating activity for improving attendance,” he said. “We want kids to be in our schools. When Gillman Chevrolet steps up, it shows the incredible support we have for HCISD.”

Leading up to the car giveaway, five students were given $500 gift cards for having perfect attendance throughout their 12 years in public school. Then, names were drawn to give 10 students $250 gift cards, two iPads, one MacBook and other prizes.

And finally … “Richard Rivera!”

Everyone applauded as the young man rose from the crowd and made his way toward his brand new car.

He could’ve driven it off the lot last night, but there’s only one problem: he doesn’t have a driver’s license.

He called his parents and told them he’d won and they didn’t believe him.

“They thought I was playing because I always mess with them like that, I always say stuff like that,” he said.

He managed to convince them after David Amaya, general manager at Gillman, took the phone.

They were on their way to drive the car home, Rivera said. He planned to get a license to drive as soon as possible.