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Arc of Washington County hosts thrill-ride fund-raiser

May 04, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

The prizewinners at Arc of Washington County Inc.'s Extravaganza Bonanza had a roller coaster of an evening.

Two hundred fifty ticket holders and their guests arrived at the Clarion Conference Center's grand ballroom at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 1, for food and drinks. Tickets were $200 per couple for a chance to win a choice of a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck, a 2004 Ford Mustang, a 2004 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, or $20,000.

At 6 p.m., attendees partook of a dinner buffet.

At 7 p.m., event workers began drawing ticket numbers from a spinning barrel one by one and tacking them to a board, thereby eliminating people from the contest.

Not to worry. Jim Lough, master of ceremonies, reminded attendees that they could buy another chance to win. Ticket No. 1 - offering another try at first prize and guaranteeing a place in the top five - was raffled off - one for $1, 10 for $5 or 31 for $10.

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Ed Hess, 57, and Jim Mace, 56, friends who attended the event with their wives, took advantage of the opportunity.

"We bought 300 together," Hess said.

Denny Nails, 61, along with scores of others, also bought another chance at the big prize.

Around 9:30 p.m., when all but four ticket holders had been eliminated, Gwen Barron, training coordinator at Arc of Washington County, announced the winning number for ticket No. 1.

In a confounding twist of events, Hess and Mace and Denny Nails all had the winning number.

Barron momentarily announced that due to a glitch in ticket numbering there were indeed, two winners. After a brief discussion, Hess and Mace as a pair, and Nails amicably agreed to split halves on whatever prize their number yielded.

The drawing continued. Three other ticket holders were eliminated.

Left vying for first prize were Hess, Mace and Nails, with ticket No. 1, and Gus Talhelm.

Not wanting to take the 50/50 chance of leaving with nothing, the four men decided to forego the odds of winning a vehicle. Instead, they agreed to share the $20,000 - $10,000 for Talhelm, $5,000 for Nails and $5,000 for Hess and Mace.

"All the other fellas wanted to split, so I agreed. I didn't want to act greedy. Go with the flow," Talhelm said.

Talhelm said he has supported Arc of Washington County - which provides a spectrum of services for people with developmental disabilities - for about 15 years through various charitable functions. He said he would probably put his winnings toward further charitable donations.

Ed Hess said when the contest is down to just two people, it's easy to split.

"It's not a big deal," he said. "Everybody gets a little bit of something."

Todd Nails, 30, son of $5,000 winner Denny Nails, said of his father, "We just lost my mom. This made him feel good."

Karen Ziska, director of human resources at Arc of Washington County, said proceeds from the event - more than $24,000 - would go toward expansion of the organization's medical day care building.

Lisa Perez, director of the medical day care center, said the larger building would allow Arc to provide services for more people who require nursing monitoring or intervention.

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