ISU student wins $10,000 for charity and trip to Spain in Ford Focus video competition

AMES, Iowa -- There's a good chance Tyler Stafford could sell anything to anyone. After all, the Iowa State University senior convinced Ford Motor Co. and 2,862 of its closest Facebook friends that he should win $10,000 for his favorite charity, a trip for two to Spain and a three-month test drive of the 2012 Ford Focus.

Stafford, an advertising and speech communications major from West Des Moines, submitted his two-minute video to the Ford Focus Global Test Drive video competition held on Facebook last fall. Stafford's video describes how he would use the $10,000 prize money (to establish an education fund of his own creation). And it explains his online social media credentials ("vast") and why he should test drive the new Focus (his first car came from eBay). Winners were selected through online voting, interviews with Ford staff and the worthiness of the contestant's preferred charity.

Stafford's video was one of 200 entries worldwide. Forty were selected, including 20 from North America. The winners will travel to Madrid, Spain (Feb. 18-22) for the Ford Global Test Drive. During the event, British race car driver Justin Bell and the contest winners will test drive the 2012 Ford Focus in "dynamic driving events" on the "varied surfaces" at the National Institute for Aerospace Technology. Ford engineers will gather their feedback.

Stafford's prize money will establish a new educational fund for ISU's Dance Marathon. The fund will be used for scholarships and tutors for Iowa children assisted by the Children's Miracle Network while at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital. The fund will "empower" those families who are burdened with medical bills and unable to afford college, and the children who fall behind in their schoolwork during prolonged illness and hospitalization.

In 2011, the ISU Dance Marathon, Iowa State's largest student-run philanthropic organization, raised more than $264,000. Stafford has been involved in the ISU Dance Marathon for four years.

"After the first year I loved it so much, I joined the recruitment committee for two years," he said. "I'm passionate about the Dance Marathon."

Stafford has never traveled outside of the United States, and is extremely excited about the upcoming trip (which he will share with his girl friend, ISU senior Meg Songer of Waukee).

"And it's neat that I'll get a brand new Ford Focus to test drive for my last three months of school," he said.

Stafford admits that he is "fully engulfed" in the YouTube community as a YouTube partner with 18,000 subscribers. He works part time creating videos and blogging for, and part time as a student brand manager for Red Bull. Two summers ago, he was a production intern for the late night TV show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in New York City. His dream job is to host an online TV show.

If Ford doesn't hire him first.