We have a winner!

The Meadow Lake Hospital Foundation’s year-long Chase the Ace fundraiser came to a close Tuesday evening (Aug. 16) with one lucky winner receiving close to $40,000 in prize money.

“It was a long, drawn out night and a real nail-biter,” explained foundation president Tony Vandenberg. “We went from 26 cards down to two. The last person called had a 50/50 chance of winning, and it was Kim Lennea who won the jackpot.”

By drawing the ace, Lennea won $39,489.

“Apparently it was also her birthday,” Vandenberg continued. “Talk about a great birthday present, wow.”

Lennea echoed this.

“Yes, we had a houseful to have pie and coffee that night, so everybody was here when the call came in,” she said. “It was very exciting to get my name drawn, and I’m still in shock I won. I’m very grateful and feel very blessed I won that large amount of money.”

As for how she plans to spend her winnings, Lennea said nothing is etched in stone quite yet.

“Right now we’re just enjoying the moment,” she said. “It will definitely help relieve some financial burden for sure, but we haven’t decided how we’re going to spend it.”

The foundation’s Chase the Ace fundraiser started a year ago with the sale of tickets at $5 apiece. Fifty per cent of the proceeds from each ticket sold went to the foundation, 30 per cent to the jackpot and 20 per cent to a bi-weekly payout.

“The jackpot continued to grow until that ace was selected,” Vandenberg continued. “The bi-weekly payouts, however, were based on ticket sales within each two-week period. The last bi-weekly payout was about $1,300 whereas this week it was $5,404 because that’s how many tickets we sold in the last two weeks – We sold nearly five times as many tickets.”

Every two weeks, when a contestant’s ticket was drawn, they automatically would win the bi-weekly payout. They would also be given a chance to go for the jackpot by drawing from the deck of cards in search of the elusive ace.

“This week’s bi-weekly winner was Crystal Murray, so she received the $5,400 but did not draw the ace,” Vandenberg said. “So, we continued to draw names with each person given a chance to draw a card. It came down to the second-last card. We are fortunate we didn’t have the ace go earlier in the year because, the more the jackpot grows, the more people are going to buy into it. Tonight we kept going until we found a winner because we only had a one-year window to play the Chase the Ace through the Sask. Liquor and Gaming Authority. If the ace had been selected say two months in, four months in, or six months in, we would simply start a new game and begin building a new jackpot.”

Overall, the hospital foundation earned a little more than $60,000 through the Chase the Ace fundraiser alone.

“That rivals some of our best fundraising endeavours we have had,” Vandenberg noted. “One year ago it started and today she ended. But, based on its success, we’re going to start another Chase the Ace in September. We’re just going to have a couple weeks break to get our paperwork in order, and we’ll get going again.”

The money raised by the foundation goes toward purchasing equipment for the Meadow Lake Hospital.

“In addition to Chase the Ace, Sept. 25 is the date for our annual golf tournament,” Vandenberg said. “That is the tournament that was supposed to happen in June, but the course was too wet. We have our sponsors lined up, but we need more players to sign up. As for Chase the Ace, thank you for the great support on this endeavour.”

Lennea also spoke about the importance of supporting the hospital foundation.

“The hospital is so important to everyone, and I am so happy they raised the money they did through the Chase the Ace fundraiser,” she noted. “I hope it continues and I hope people will continue to support it. It’s so important to the community to have the hospital we have.”

by Phil Ambroziak