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Wendy Reuer, Published December 17 2010

Mall’s Facebook fans vote for teen’s wish

Steven Eltz agreed to go with his mom to the mall for a Christmas program on the stipulation he could check out the iPads once again.

He was saving his money to buy himself one of the coveted electronic tablets as a birthday present in April.

Little did he know, Christmas and his birthday were about to come early.

His mother, Barb Eltz, had nominated 19-year-old Steven to win an iPad in the West Acres Facebook contest “Give and Get Giveaway.”

“He just wanted one so badly, but I told him it wasn’t in the budget for this year,” Barb Eltz said.

Fans of West Acres were asked to upload a photo of a gift they would like to give. Four finalists would then get mall gift cards to make it happen.

Barb Eltz wrote in her nomination, “He loves computers, but the mouse and keyboard are a challenge for him at times. The touch screen of the iPad grabbed his attention the first time he tried it, and he took right to it. I think it would greatly reduce his frustration and give him a way to access what he likes without needing to ask for help.”

Steven Eltz received more than 1,000 votes from around the world to make him the grand-prize winner of a $1,000 gift card.

“He’s very deserving of this gift. You can tell he has a lot of support just by the sheer number of votes that came in for him,” said Alissa Sorum, West Acres marketing director.

Sorum presented Eltz the winning gift Thursday night at the mall, where Eltz thought he was about to see a Christmas program.

“It was so hard (not telling Steven). We kept it a secret, and we never keep secrets from him,” Barb Eltz said.

Steven Eltz said he was very surprised but excited and ready to go buy his new iPad as soon as the card was in his hands.

“I want to play with it right away,” he said.

He added that he was not surprised his mom would do such a thing for him, but he was very grateful.

“Steven gives me so much every day. I know no matter what the day brings, there’s going to be a lot of laughter,” Barb Eltz said of her son. “He’s had a lot of medical issues over his life, but he leaves a trail of smiles wherever he goes.”

The other winners of the giveaway:

Second place: Jessica Fredrickson – “Dinner … A Movie … and Memories,” $300.

Third place: Lori Magelky Ruhland – “A Soft, Warm Spot for PAAWS Adoptable Cats,” $150.

Fourth place: Kayla Speicher – “Gift for the Little Brothers,” $50.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530