November 23, 2004
Most people can only dream of becoming millionaires, but Chandler’s Chris and Mary Olmstead now know what it’s like.
The couple instantly became millionaires Friday during the Health and Wealth Raffle to benefit St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. The couple spent $250 on three tickets and ended up winning the $1 million grand prize.
"Anything would have been a thrill," Mary Olmstead said. "The grand prize didn’t even enter our minds."
When Kathy Rice, manager of the Health and Wealth Raffle, called to let Chris Olmstead know he had won, he said he was in disbelief.
"I was just stunned," he said. "I started running through my mind the odds. There wasn’t much jumping up and down because I was so stunned."
Chris Olmstead said he and his wife plan to invest the money for their retirement and may get their back yard landscaped.
Chandler resident and single mom Josephine Prejean won $250,000 in cash through the raffle. "I actually just sold my townhome to help me out financially, so now I’m going to purchase a home," she said.
Prejean said she and her boyfriend, who split the $450 cost of five tickets, have talked about getting married, but didn’t know how they would pay for a wedding or a honeymoon. Now they have the money to get married when they’re ready, save for her sons’ college education and contribute to charity.
Prejean and the Olmsteads said they bought the tickets for a good cause.
"It’s to help out the St. Joseph’s Hospital, so it was more to contribute to that whether I won or not," Prejean said. "It was just a time of giving and then I received."
Rice said the raffle raised $5.1 million for the hospital and will be used for programs in the Children’s Health Center. She said 8,250 prizes were distributed and many of the people who bought tickets had stories about loved ones who had been helped at the hospital.
"To hear all of the stories, it was a very fun day for me," Rice said. "Friday, I had tons of screaming and lots of tears. I had some people call me back to make sure I was for real."
Rice said this was the third raffle fund-raising project, and it has raised more than $9 million in 18 months for the hospital.