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Nanaimo's Lotto for Life marks 20 years helping hospital

Maeve O’Byrne, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation president, catches up on some reading at the foundation office. Tickets are already on sale and this year’s lottery features more than a dozen cash prizes. - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
Maeve O’Byrne, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation president, catches up on some reading at the foundation office. Tickets are already on sale and this year’s lottery features more than a dozen cash prizes.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Some lucky winners will find themselves hundreds and even thousands of dollars richer for participating in the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation’s Lotto for Life campaign this year.

Tickets went on sale last week for the 20th annual lottery and the foundation increased the number of cash prizes – about 14 of the roughly 70 prizes are cash amounts ranging from $500 to the $20,000 top early bird prize and the grand prize of $100,000.

“This year we’ve increased the number of cash prizes because people have said they like those,” said Maeve O’Byrne, foundation president.

Other prizes this year include a Panama cruise, a Buick Verano, a Disneyland vacation, fishing packages, a weekend at Harrison Hot Springs and lots of gift certificates. The $20,000 early bird prize is in honour of the lottery’s 20th anniversary.

O’Byrne said Lotto for Life is probably the longest- running major lottery in the province.

Twenty years ago, the foundation started up the annual fundraiser after O’Byrne and a board member visited St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, which was running a similar campaign at the time.

“It took us nine months to get permission from the board to do it,” she said. “The first few years we were really sort of biting our nails.”

But the foundation sold out of tickets that first year and while the prizes have changed – top prize used to be a condominium in the city instead of cash – the popularity of the annual event has not.

O’Byrne said tickets have not sold out since 2003 – the foundation has stuck with selling just 5,000 ever since it started up Lotto for Life – but the campaign comes close to selling out every year and last year, about 95 per cent of tickets were sold.

“We’re hoping to raise about $120,000,” she said.

Proceeds will help the foundation complete its goal of raising $4 million to buy lifesaving equipment for the hospital’s new emergency department.

O’Byrne said so far, the foundation has raised almost $3.3 million, so this is the home stretch.

“We believe we will have [the ER campaign] completed by June,” she said.

The early bird draw will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at Woodgrove Centre and the final draw takes place at 1 p.m. April 6 at Country Club Centre.

Ticket sale cutoffs are Feb. 14 for the early bird draw and March 22 for the final draw.

Lotto for Life tickets are $100 and can be ordered by calling 250-755-7640 or by visiting www.nanaimo

hospitalfoundation.com/lotto for outlet locations.

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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