Lucky in lottery, life

Nelson Marker has won computer sweepstakes, $2002 in the Md. lottery, and the fight against a debilitating disease.

Nelson Marker has won computer sweepstakes, $2002 in the Md. lottery, and the fight against a debilitating disease.

September 16, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Nelson Marker is on a roll.

First, the Hagerstown resident survived a bout with colon cancer that left him hospitalized for four months, he said.

While recovering, Marker won first prize in a Dell Computer Corp. sweepstakes drawing, taking delivery this summer of a new 36-inch TV with stand, stereo system, DVD player and VCR, he said.

The equipment was valued at $3,400, Marker said.

Then he won $2,002 and the chance to win a new car in the Maryland Lottery's "Let Yourself Play Summer of Fun" promotion.

His entry and those of three other Maryland residents were selected in August from about 70,000 entries competing to play the lottery's "Maryland Raceway Game," according to information from the Maryland Lottery.


"I was lucky, I want to tell you. Lucky," said Marker, 57.

He began entering numerous mail-in contests and buying $5 to $10 worth of lottery tickets each week while recovering from the cancer he didn't expect to survive, Marker said.

The seven operations he's endured since 1999 have weakened Marker's health, forcing him to take medical disability leave from his job at Mack Trucks, where he's worked for more than 30 years.

"I do enter a lot of sweepstakes. Some people don't fool with it, but I have a lot of time," Marker said.

He pooled the nonwinning scratch-off tickets he bought with dozens of already scratched tickets from friends and family members to buoy his chances of winning a 2003 Toyota Matrix in the Raceway game.

In mid-August, Marker sent the scratched tickets, at least $5 worth in each of 50 envelopes, to the Maryland Lottery in Baltimore, he said.

He hoped, but didn't expect, lottery officials to pluck one of his contest entries from the revolving cement truck that held a total of 70,000 entries, Marker said.

"I was sort of excited," he said.

That excitement blossomed when Marker was notified Aug. 24 that one of his entries was chosen. He was the only finalist picked from Western Maryland, he said.

Marker and his family traveled to a lottery reception at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium on Aug. 30. Although he enjoyed an evening of live entertainment and food, Marker didn't roll the Matrix's cost - $19,723 - in a dice game to win the car, he said.

"But they treated us real good and I didn't come away empty-handed," Marker said.

He left Timonium with about 25 scratch-off tickets and a $2,002 consolation prize, he said. Marker's ticket winnings tallied $29. He plans to deposit his prize money in his 13-year-old son's college education account, Marker said.

He's grateful for his luck - both in the lottery and life, he said.

"I'm cancer-free," Marker said. "That's the luckiest thing of all."

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