Two Valley children win SPI vacations for their families

Special to the PRESS

When several hundred students at Harvest Christian Academy in Edinburg were called out of class to the auditorium, some asked “Why?” When six students were called to the front as finalists of the South Texas Children’s Arts Festival, the question changed to “Who?”

Arts festival founder Carey Kinsolving introduced Daniel Salazar, the general manager of the Isla Grand Beach Resort, to announce which of the six would win a week-long vacation for her family at the Isla Grand Beach Resort plus $600 in Grand Bucks to eat at the hotel’s restaurants and snack bars.

As her parents snuck into the back of the auditorium to witness the surprise announcement, Salazar named 10-year-old Analyssa Smith as the vacation winner.

To enter the festival, Smith answered questions related to the Gospel of John and illustrated her answers by drawing art.

“With so many religions, how can Jesus be the only way to heaven?” is one of the questions Smith answered: “Jesus is the only way to heaven because he is the Son of God. He is the way, the truth and the light. No one can come to the Father unless you go through him.”

After the surprise announcement, Smith said, “It was really all God giving me the words and the picture in my mind.”

“We’re grateful to God,” said Smith’s mother, Sandra. “We’re just so proud of her and we’re glad she can relate how she truly feels in this picture and how she answered the question. It’s the most beautiful thing to see your child know the love of Jesus.”

To see Smith’s art and writing, the second winner’s art and writing and video of the surprise announcements, please visit

The second surprise announcement came in Brownsville at the house of Matthew and Natalia Taylor. When the front door opened, Kinsolving introduced Rene Valdez, general manager of Holiday Inn Resort South Padre Island, to five-year-old Elisabeth Taylor.

After Taylor learned she had won a week’s vacation on South Padre Island, she thrust three fingers in the air and started jumping up and down.

“This is the third thing I’ve won,” she shouted as Kinsolving, a TV news reporter and photographer looked on in amazement at her uninhibited excitement and expression.

Taylor answered and illustrated the question, “Why did Jesus say Christians would do greater things than he did?”

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