Mae Santiago-Shupe of Maple Ridge was the big winner of the Rotary Duck Race this year, taking home the grand prize of $15,000.
Santiago-Shupe was at home when she received the winning phone call.
“Of course I didn’t answer my phone because, you know, it could be spam,” she laughed.
Then she listened to her voice message, which was followed by an email. That’s when she realized that her winnings were “real”.
“It was really quite a shock, for sure,” said Santiago-Shupe, who has been buying tickets in the Rotary Duck Race since it began 11 years ago. Her son was involved with the Ridge Meadows Speed Skating Association and she sold tickets on behalf of the club.
This is the first time Santiago-Shupe has won anything in a lottery, and she said, the win has taken a while to sink in.
“I keep looking at my bank account and I think there’s really something wrong with that,” she chuckled.
Santiago-Shupe will be using part of the funds to buy herself a new laptop computer. The rest of the money she plans to use to help her son, a dual American citizen, who will be trying out for the U.S. Olympic team Dec. 16-19. He is currently training at the Utah Olympic Oval.
“I just feel super blessed and super grateful,” said Santiago-Shupe about her win, especially, she noted, after the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, with the latest rounds of restrictions easing, and the growing number of people who are now vaccinated, she added, the win feels like a new beginning.
Although, thousands of dollars was raised for local sports groups and organizations, it was not the usual race this year.
For one thing, rubber ducks were not unleashed along the Alouette River on Sunday, June 6 – but a draw took place, instead.
It was the 10th annual event, but there was no celebration, said Ineke Boekhorst with the Rotary Club of Meadow Ridge.
“It was really kind of sad that we couldn’t make a big splash about it, literally,” she shared.
And, there was only about $38,000 in gross ticket sales this year – with money coming out of that to pay for holding the event online – raising thousands less than what was raised in pre-pandemic years.
In 2019, more than $84,000 was raised for local youth and senior organizations, sports groups, and school parent advisory councils.
Last year, the event was cancelled because of COVID-19, and so the main goal of continuing the event this year was to stay relevant in the community, noted Boekhorst.
“This year we felt we really had to do it because the community groups were really losing out on the money they were making every year. They need that funding to operate,” she explained.
About 24 youth and seniors organizations sold virtual ducks online this year and those who bought tickets chose the club or organization they wished to contribute to.
Even though they made less than in previous years, Boekhorst said the groups that participated were happy with the amounts they received. Boekhorst is confident the race – in its original form – will return next year.
Cheques will be handed out to the winners next week, she said.
There were six other winners on June 6.
Raylene Yip of Maple Ridge won $4,000.
Patrick Wourms of Maple Ridge won a Mark’s Maple Ridge $1,000 shopping spree, plus $1,000 cash.
Tali Loewen of Pitt Meadows won a patio sofa from Fuller Watson Brandsource valued at $1,689.
Caroline Nelson of Vancouver won a 65-inch Smart TV from Haney Appliance and Sound, worth $1,099.
Melanie Shaw of Pitt Meadows won 10 rounds of golf plus five cart rentals at Meadow Gardens Golf Course.
This year there was also a 50/50 draw won by Sally Dickie of Maple Ridge. She won half of the $11,695 raised, taking home $5,847.50.
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