For the first time that anyone can remember, Joel Priest was speechless.
On Thursday, the indefatigible sports writer for the Pine River Times and Southern Ute Drum received an almost-new 2017 Ford Escape as a gift.
On his way last weekend to regional volleyball in Parker, he hit an animal and severely damaged the front of his beloved Subaru.
Parents of some Bayfield High School students decided it was time to give the intrepid reporter a hand. Priest also announces games and is a rabid softball player and sports fan.
The nearly-new vehicle has four-wheel drive, new tires, and a minimal amount of mileage.
BHS athletes also gave him gift cards for gasoline, oil changes, coffee, restaurants and hotels.
The gift was from Tyler Martin and Saul's Creek Rehab in Bayfield.
"He's shown up to to all the games that I've gone to," Martin said. "He's always shown up for the team, so it was an easy decision to make."
All of the athletes at Thursday's presentation thanked him for his support of local students. Hunter Killough joked that when he runs faster in a football game than Priest, he knows he's making good time.
"Thank you, Joel, for everything you do," said Savannah Kaufmann.
"Nobody in the state puts in more miles to cover high school sports," wrote John Livingston, the Durango Herald sports editor. "His passion for Colorado high school athletics is second to none. Bayfield is a special sports community, and I couldn't imagine Wolverine athletics without Joel. He's our road warrior, and I'm so thankful to the Bayfield community for recognizing him."
Priest thanked all of the students and parents for their generosity and said he works hard to cover local sports so the athletes have a record of their accomplishments.
"I do it all for you," he said, almost choking up as he spoke.
He then called his mechanic and cancelled the repair work on his old car.