Two women — one from Breslau and the other from Leamington — became significantly richer on Thursday morning when health-care foundation officials announced the winners of the fall Dream Lottery.
It’s a good thing their winnings didn’t hinge on picking up the first phone call — both winners’ phones went to voicemail on the first attempt.
Mary Difrancisco of Leamington will be deciding between a $1.8-million Millstone Home in southwest London, a downtown condo by Tricar plus $500,000 cash or a $1-million cash prize after being named the grand prize winner.
Heather Whyte’s decision is a little bit easier: the Breslau woman only has to decide how she’ll spend the nearly $440,000 she won through the lottery’s 50-50 draw.
“I feel like I’m being pranked right now,” Whyte said after hearing the news, her voice coming through the speakerphone and sparking laughter from a crowd of officials representing the hospitals that benefit from the lottery. The winners were announced inside a Silver Creek Circle home.
Elana Johnson, vice-chair of the Children’s Health Foundation, assured her that no — it wasn’t a prank.
“Can you imagine getting a call on a snowy weekday morning that you all of a sudden are going to have almost $440,000 that you didn’t have before? That’s life-changing,” said Johnson, moments after getting off the phone with Whyte.
“For children’s health, for the hospital here…90 per cent of all the equipment that all of the care providers use to help our children — either to save their lives or improve their lives — comes through community fundraising efforts like this,” Johnson explained.
She added that the Children’s Hospital is a regional facility, serving areas like Leamington and Breslau as well as London.
The money from the tickets sold throughout the Dream Lottery are unrestricted funds, which are used to address priorities in immediate acute care, ongoing support for children with specific needs and research, said Johnson.
“For instance, very highly sophisticated respiratory ventilation for tiny newborns that need that kind of help. Equipment that helps assessment for the child that’s in an acute situation that needs to have full and comprehensive analysis… these are the kinds of equipment that we would be purchasing,” she explained.
Officials say the Dream Lottery didn’t sell out this year, but it did raise more than $1 million for London Health Sciences Foundation, Children’s Health Foundation and St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation.