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Louise student restores tractor, now needs votes for national contest

By by CAMILLE M. DOTY - CDOTY@VICAD.COM
Sept. 16, 2011 at 4:16 a.m.

Michaela Bram, 17, said she likes going outside and getting dirty. She's learning how to ride the 1984 Hesston tractor, which se named Tootsie.

To vote:

If you want to vote for Michaela Bram's video, visit www.delotrc.com. She is the Louise High FFA (Louise, TX) - 2011 Delo TRC Entrant. The deadline is Oct. 20.

Louise High School students and faculty have made plenty of computer clicks to vote for one of their own.

Senior Michaela Bram is one of 17 video contestants in the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition.

The competition includes two stages: restoring a tractor and a video contest about the restoration.

The video shows 400 hours of work squeezed into three minutes.

She said the work itself yields its own reward.

"It makes me proud to do it, finish it and not give up," she said.

The 17-year-old also admitted she likes going outside and getting dirty.

Michaela's tractor, a Hesston 566, affectionately called Tootsie, has brown interior and orange coating.

The 1984 Italian-imported tractor was somewhat complicated to work on because of the automatic road gears, Michaela said.

It was given to her by her uncle, Bob Richter, of El Campo.

This project was a personal accomplishment for Michaela. She submitted a portfolio to Chevron Delo to be considered as a finalist in the national competition.

On Monday, she will learn if she will become a finalist through a Facebook announcement.

If she advances, Michaela will travel to Indianapolis, Ind., the week of Oct. 19.

The video contest is voter-generated.

At first, Michaela fell behind in votes because of a computer glitch. Only one person from the school was able to vote per day. With that fixed, she has managed a top-five video spot.

Debbie Chappell, whose son is dating Michaela, said she's determined to see her succeed.

"We're playing catch-up," Chappell said. She described the honor student as well-rounded.

Michaela plays for the El Campo All Stars Softball team, even pitching in the Senior League World Series in Delaware. Michaela also raises animals for the livestock show.

She is the only child of Linda and Michael Bram.

Michaela's mother said rehabbing the tractor was a work in progress.

"It was like putting a jig-saw puzzle together," she said. "But now we got it back together."

Bram said she is delighted Michaela finished the project and now others have recognized her gift.

In February, she received a $12,000 scholarship from the San Antonio Livestock Show.

Michaela's boyfriend, Will Chappell, told her about the contest. He is last year's winner of the FFA Chapter, Location and Restoration Project.

Chappell may have the reigning title, but he credits his girlfriend for the effort she's made.

"She did all by herself," he said. "I'm proud of her."

Michaela said she appreciates all the support she's received so far, but she still needs votes.

"It would mean the world to me," she said.

If she wins the national competition, she will receive a cash prize and represent Chevron Delo for a year, encouraging people to restore tractors.

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