OXBOW - For two years in a row, the Oxbow and District Recreation Board hosted a successful, sold-out Chase the Ace fundraiser.
On June 1, after the last of the 20,000 tickets printed for the event were sold in a matter of minutes, a lucky winner took home a maximum jackpot.
"Through this game we have shared $40,000 on a weekly basis and $60,000 in the ace jackpot last [Wednesday] night," said the rec. board on their Facebook page. "Congratulations to Trina Hitchens on winning $1,552 [the weekly pot] and Danny and Dianne Merkley on winning the big prize. Thank you all so much for your support. The recreation facilities in Oxbow are the beneficiaries."
The Merkleys reside on a farm northeast of Glen Ewen, and they've been big supporters of the fundraiser and also a part of the Oxbow community. Dianne said that winning the jackpot was "unbelievable".
The family was playing the game since the beginning and all the way through, probably missing just one or two draws. They had kids playing sports in Oxbow and Dianne noted that they like to support everything that they can, so if the game is offered again, they will keep playing.
She said that the winnings will give them a bit of peace of mind with their farming operation.
"We're seeding right now and that's taking a lot of money with prices of everything up high, so it probably will help," Dianne shared.
Oxbow and District Recreation board member Tami Scott said that the night of the fundraiser was really exciting. Since the tickets were sold out two weeks before the deadline, they had to keep pulling names and cards until the ace of spades was drawn. So it went down to five cards before the desired one was finally picked.
The recreation board invited the community to join them for the last draw, and about 20-30 people came to witness the finale at the legion in Oxbow. But the board ended up phoning most people whose names were drawn, including the winners.
"I was watching on my iPad, and I had my phone beside me just in case. And when they called my husband's last name, I was totally shocked. And then to pick the right card was [unbelievable]," Dianne said.
She added that she was watching it on her own, as her family was out at the shop, and she was the one to pick the right card. However, her screen froze for a moment, and while everyone at the legion was already applauding the winner, Dianne still didn't know that she caught the ace of spades.
The night in general was a lot of fun, Scott said.
"Everybody was having fun. There was lots of chitter-chatter about whose name was getting drawn, lots of very fun and friendly teasing," Scott shared.
The recreation board has five facilities that they oversee, including the arena, the swimming pool, the museum, Bow Valley Park and the Memorial Hall. Money raised through Chase the Ace will help with annual disbursements. Besides, in the long run, the board plans on building a new hall, so they'll be keeping money aside to eventually get started on that project.
Scott thanked the board, which consists of 10 members, and all the supporters for working together for a successful fundraiser.
"We're so grateful for the people who chose to play, and I feel grateful for the whole recreation board. Everybody really stepped up, it was a group effort, so that made it much easier," Scott said.
Dianne also thanked everybody involved with the game.
"Tami and all the volunteers, they did a wonderful job. That's a lot of work for doing that for as long as they do, and I just think that they do wonderful," Dianne said.
With the success of the two virtual/in-person Chase the Ace fundraisers, Scott said that they probably will have another one starting in September.