BRIDGEPORT — Growing up with three older brothers and a tomboy sister, Alecks Nadwodney had no trouble thinking up the car of his dreams.
For the 15-year-old boy getting ready to take drivers ed in the fall, the ride racing through his mind was a Ford Mustang convertible.
Little did he know his dream would soon come true.
On Saturday his mother, Jennifer Nadwodney, won a white, 1990 Ford Mustang GT convertible with red interior — the grand prize of a 25th anniversary giveaway at Fabulous Freddies Italian Eatery.
Nadwodney doesn't plan to drive it herself; she has a car of her own, a 2012 Chevy Impala. The Mustang is for her youngest son, she said.
"The odd thing is, he asked for a Mustang," said Nadwodney, who would've had trouble buying her son a car otherwise. "We needed it."
The Bridgeport native, who grew up down the block from Freddies at 31st and Union but now lives near Downstate Champaign, found the contest while perusing the restaurant’s online menu.
“We were coming to the city and we always hit Freddies,” said Nadwodney, who works as a hospital billing administrator. “It’s become a staple for our family.”
The rules of the contest seemed simple enough: Guess the exact number of pizza slices, sausage sandwiches, breaded steak sandwiches and Italian ices the restaurant had sold over the past quarter-century.
The top five guesses in each category would make the final drawing.
The mother of five submitted her guesses — one was 1.5 million pizza slices. She was not far off.
Since 1990, Freddies has sold 1,519,325 slices of pizza, 773,388 beef sandwiches, 88,300 sausage sandwiches, 274,550 breaded steak sandwiches and 855,425 Italian ices.
Nadwodney soon got a call from Denise Bertucci, who opened the restaurant with her husband, Fred, in 1990.
The restaurant boss had good news: Nadwodney was one of 26 finalists in the Mustang contest.
Using the Internet, Bertucci had found the car at a dealer in Tennessee and had it delivered to the neighborhood. The car has no connection to Freddies or the Bertuccis other than it shares the restaurant’s birthday.
On Saturday, Aug. 8, Nadwodney and her son hopped in her 2012 Chevy Impala and made the 2½-hour drive to Bridgeport to attend the anniversary party.
Bertucci soon took the microphone and drew the contest winner.
Alecks Nadwodney said the experience of hearing his mother's name was nothing short of a Hollywood ending.
“I felt exactly like how it looks when those people on the game shows win,” he said, “but it was real this time.”
If Nadwodney hadn’t won the car, she said, her youngest son wouldn’t have had a car of his own.
"She had us all in tears," Bertucci said. "Some of the contestants came up and said, 'The right person won.’”
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