Linda Boyd just did not want to pick up the phone.
For one, she and partner Larry Petersen had just sat down for a late New Year’s Eve dinner and glass of wine around 8 p.m. Tuesday. On top of that, she did not recognize the number that was calling her.
That caller was persistent, though, and after letting her home and cell phones ring out a few times, she decided to listen to one of the messages the caller had left:
“Good evening, I’m looking for a Linda Boyd. My name is Len Sisco, and if you’ve been following the press at all over the last couple of months you will know who I am. Please give me a shout back, as early as you can … It is of great importance and a lot of excitement.”
Those words alone still did not entirely convince her that she should return the call, though. What did finally make her think it was the real deal were the excited voices of others she could hear in the background.
When she did return Sisco’s call, she got the news — of the 12,424 tickets in the barrel for the Kinsmen Dream Home draw, hers had been picked out; she had won the house.
When she got over her initial sense of disbelief, Boyd called friends with whom the couple had been talking about going out to celebrate the new year earlier in the day, asking them to come with her and Petersen into Red Deer because she had won the dream home.
“So we called them and they thought it was a spoof to make them get up to go out,” Boyd, 52, laughed.
After a half hour, Boyd made the drive in to Red Deer for a celebratory first look at the 3,000-square-foot, $890,000 home in Vanier Woods East. Still somewhat in disbelief, she had to admit to the person describing the home’s amenities to her upon her arrival that she was not exactly taking in much of what he was saying.
Boyd said she has bought a ticket for the home lottery most years, but she almost forgot to in 2013. It was only hearing a reminder on the radio Tuesday morning that prompted her to go online and purchase a single ticket. Some 12 hours later, she had won the grand prize.
“It’s one of those things — it’s great to win, but if you don’t win you know your money is going to work in the community,” she said.
Whether she will actually move into the house or sell it, though, is a decision she will mull over for the next few months. While loving the dream home for its open, airy feel and with friends living in the neighbourhood, Boyd’s current home in Sylvan Lake gives her easy access to the water that she loves to use for sailing.
Overall, 88 per cent of all tickets for the lottery were sold, up from 70 per cent last year and the highest percentage since 2006. Sisco, chair of the lottery, said increased promotion on social media this year helped, and the Larkaun Homes-built house impressed a lot of people who would buy a ticket, tour the home, and then buy another one.
Money raised through the lottery will go to a number of local agencies, such as Family Services of Central Alberta and the Central Alberta Emergency Women’s Shelter. Sisco estimated that approximately $400,000 would be raised this year, up from about $150,000 last year.
Other prizes won through the lottery included a truck, a quad, a hot tub, and a trip to Mexico.
Iris Eliuk won nearly $75,000 in the 50/50 draw, run for only the second time in 2013. The other half of the funds raised through the draw will go towards a renovation project at Camp Alexo.