I'll save you from hours of trouble!
Put it into DFU mode. Then reset. It should force it to accept the reset.
Now, you must be PERFECT with your timings. If successful, you should have a completely black screen. If not, it will simply reboot the iPad. No consequences. After entering DFU mode, itunes will say it has detected a device in recovery mode, when it is actually in DFU mode. That is normal. Read the guide, it's really simple and fix the iPad probably in under 15 minutes! Don't worry if you mess up your timings, I still do a lot and I've done it 50+ times. Use a clock to keep time.
Good luck, and pretty cool you got a free iPad!