Catch The Ace winner collects cheque for $224,183.50

Lorna Leach and husband Pat Leach of Micksburg are no strangers to Barry’s Bay; over the years they’ve been here many times and even visited just a week ago to have lunch at the Ash Grove Inn. But on Dec.18 their trip to the Bay was for a very different purpose indeed: Lorna’s ticket was drawn the evening before in the St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation (SVHF) Catch The Ace draw. And not only that, but her chosen number, 26, (son Nat’s birthday is July 26) was the number of the envelope containing the elusive Ace of Spades. That meant instead of winning a substantial Weekly Prize of $9,070 the progressive jackpot of $215,113.50 was rolled into Lorna’s winnings, so the amount on her cheque was $224,183.50. Above: Pat and Lorna beam for the cameras as they hold the cheque.

Often when SFVH Executive Director Erin Gienow telephones a winner, the call comes as a complete surprise. Not so last Thursday. As usual, Lorna had watched on Facebook Live as her ticket was drawn and then continued watching, in shock, as envelope number 26 was opened, so when the phone rang she knew exactly why Gienow was calling. So Lorna didn’t hesitate before agreeing to drive to Barry’s Bay to collect her winnings the next morning.

Lorna and Pat told The Current they have played their same “lucky numbers” every week and each of them has held a ticket throughout the Catch The Ace lottery. Last week it was Pat’s turn to buy, and he picked up Lorna’s $5 winning ticket at the Eganville Shell. As Valley residents living along the Hwy.41 corridor, they have supported Catch The Ace lotteries not just here with SFVH but also in other communities that have held one, like the hospitals in Deep River, Pembroke, Renfrew. Like many friends and neighbours, the Leach family didn’t need to be told about the vital importance of rural healthcare.

This was the third round of Catch The Ace held by SFVH. The previous rounds both ended quite early when the Ace of Spades was revealed. The three rounds have raised $392,000 in total to date for Valley Manor redevelopment. At the cheque presentation on Dec.18, Gienow thanked all ticket buyers and acknowledged help from many Valley individuals, most of whom attended the event at the Barry’s Bay Legion to celebrate the success of their labours. The group included a core team of volunteers who help with the weekly draws: drivers from the Wilno Knights of Columbus including Ed Chippior, Richard Shulist, Raphael Smaglinskie, Emmett Pecarski, David Shulist and Ken Kuiack; helpers who count tickets and aid at the venue including Maxine Smaglinski, Lorraine Coulter and Sharon Florent; venue assistance by Christine Hudder; extended ticket sales at the Barry’s Bay Shell by Jill Vermaire; Mike and Heather Poliquin of Royal Canadian Legion Barry’s Bay Branch 406 for facilitating the virtual weekly draw. Shown below are some of the volunteers, Valley Manor representatives and the SFVH team.

As you would expect on such a joyous occasion there was plenty of good-natured joshing, starting with, “Hey, Pat, d’ya think she’ll buy you a Christmas present now?” (Pat’s deadpan response, “Well, I been good the last day or so.”) Lorna pointed out that her son, who lives close by, figured he, too, was due a chunk of the winnings because she used his birthdate! And the volume of the wisecracks heated up considerably when Gerald Tracey of The Eganville Leader turned up, because Gerald and Pat go back a long way having been high school students together in Eganville.

Lorna and Pat hadn’t got too far with their planning when they were interviewed at the Legion hall, but they did intend to go out for a nice lunch after. There may be a few home improvements to follow in future, and hopefully a trip south when it is safe as Lorna and her girlfriend usually have a winter break. Lorna and Pat both wore face masks that hinted at what each of them has in mind for a portion of the windfall.

Above: Lorna’s mask (right) shows a tropical beach scene while Pat’s mask sports a tractor.

Congratulations to Lorna Leach! The rest of us can stay tuned for another chance; Gienow says Catch The Ace will be back next year,

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