WINDSOR, N.S. — A hush falls over the crowd. The card is flipped. The room explodes in cheer.
The ace of spades was picked April 19.
Rose Greer was the lucky person to draw the card, but she’s not the only winner.
A group of 16 people from Kent in Windsor went in together on the draw. The jackpot? A total of $315,644. Split 16 ways that’s $19,727.75 each.
Greer said she was blown away when she saw the ace.
“I was just super excited,” Greer said following the draw. “It’s just crazy.”
Greer, who’s from Avondale, said she plans to use her portion of the pot to help pay for university. She’s heading to Saint Francis Xavier University to study nursing.
“I have some phone calls to make, but I work tomorrow, so I’ll see them all then,” she said with a laugh.
One of the fellow winners, Beth Fairweather, was also at Tommy Guns when the draw was made, and gave Greer a big hug afterwards.
“I was so excited for (Rose); she wanted me to go up with her, but I said ‘no you go do it,’ because she was in charge of the whole thing,” Fairweather said.
“I trusted her with whatever card she picked,” she said.
“I think it’s great that it’s a shared group that won, that’s 16 people in Windsor going home with some money,” she said. “I’m just really excited, my knees are trembling.”
ICE ICE Baby
Another big winner from the draw, which has swept the region up in excitement over the past several weeks, is of course the main group behind the fundraiser — Integrity Cheer Empire, or ICE All Stars, a local cheer organization.
Jennifer Beals, the fundraising coordinator for ICE All Stars, said the Chase the Ace draw was by far their largest fundraiser ever.
“When we first started, we had no idea it would grow to this capacity,” she said. “We’re a non-profit organization, so we’ve never had a lot of money to put towards gym renovations, which is something we’ve already started thanks to this.”
The April 19 draw brought in $149,740 in ticket sales alone. In the end, ICE will receive $285,696.
The draw has been happening every Thursday for almost a year, with the exception of four weeks due to weather or holidays.
“It’s helped to offset some of the fees our 110 athletes have to pay and some of the travel costs as well,” Beals said.
She said that people have travelled from all over the province to participate and others are purchasing tickets through friends and family from across the country.
“At the beginning, we all joked ‘what if this hits $50,000?’ and when we hit that, we joked again and said, ‘well, what about $100,000?’” she said. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think it would go this far.”
Beals said the organization will take some time to recuperate, but another Chase the Ace fundraiser could happen again in the future.
“It was such a huge fundraiser for us, as well as bringing support to all of the community, so we would love to do something like this again,” she said. “Down the road — absolutely.”
Carrie Hogan, manager of the Tommy Gun’s Speakeasy Lounge, where the draw was held, said the weekly draw has been a boon for business.
“We’ve seen lots of sales on Thursday nights, but it also helps people in the community that think we’re just a pool hall to realize that we’ve got good food, live music and more,” she said.
“We’ve developed some new customers that are coming here more often,” Hogan said.
“And it’s not just us — all of the businesses in town are profiting from it, because there are so many people out and about in town.”
Downtown Windsor’s streets were packed with cars, an unusual sight on a Thursday evening. Several other businesses in town were said to be streaming the video of the draw for their customers as well.
She said the crowds really started to snowball after the jackpot went over the $100,000 mark after 45 weeks.
Tickets were also being sold at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 009. All locations were said to be at full capacity.