Russell Resident Rose Gravelle never expected to win the lottery; the odds were so long as to be almost impossible. She buys tickets for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Dream Home lottery to support the organization, not to win the house or money. But after the draw had concluded, she received a call that would change her and her son’s life.
“I was in disbelief,” Rose said. “I actually called Mr. Champagne (the VP of Corporate and Community Development at CHEO) because I thought for sure it was actually a fraud call. I apologized for that later, believe me.”
A simple yet impossible thing had happened: the ticket she purchased had been drawn for the 50/50 prize. That meant that with over $2,800,000 of ticket sales from all over Ontario, half the money raised was now hers, over $1,400,000 at the time of the draw. It still hadn’t sunk in by the time she spoke with reporters on the phone.
“I’m still in disbelief. It almost feels like I’m playing Monopoly,” she said. “Unfortunately, with COVID it makes it a bit more difficult; you can’t go out and celebrate with friends and family, you can’t travel…or at least we don’t feel comfortable doing that.”
“I think it would be a bit better if I could book a trip somewhere.”
Despite her disbelief, she has a few things she’d like to do with the money in mind, even with the COVID pandemic overshadowing things. Aside from sharing her winnings with her son, who was also listed on the ticket, she’d like to help her daughter find somewhere to settle down.
“My first plan is to help my daughter buy a house, a down-payment for her,” she said, “and then maybe some travelling. I haven’t done a whole lot of thought.”
She didn’t have any plans to move away when we spoke, saying, “I’m very happy where I am right now, I have no plans for moving. Maybe take it easy a little bit, but like I say, it’s still hard to really say because it hasn’t 100% sunk in. No plans right now to uproot or anything like that. Maybe a cottage.”
She did make sure to mention how smooth the process was after her win was confirmed. CHEO really stepped up to the plate, she said, and made it known that they really do care.
“Everybody was so awesome with the communication, with the funds transfer, with the checking in if everyone was okay and if we believed it yet. Absolutely so professional, it was awesome, and genuinely caring,” she said. “Even the banks, of course because the two of us split the money there were two different financial institutions, it was really great. Even after I called Mr. Champagne.”
Granddaughter Everlee was feeling the love as well, receiving her own prize from CHEO alongside the money.
“The little sloth that Everlee is holding is a gift from CHEO, which was a bigger hit than the cheque.”
Rose said that although the ticket sales make everything possible, CHEO realizes that winning such a huge prize can be a complete shock to people, and they work to support families through every step of the process.
“Even though we are changing CHEO’s life through the money we donate through the tickets, they realize how much this is going to change our life.”