The new Ronald McDonald House of San Diego is set to open in the next couple of weeks. It will have 47 bedrooms and serve more than 20,000 families a year.
Renee Spencer of San Diego is the lucky lady who won a cool $1.3 million and took the title of 2009 Grand Prize winner of the Ronald McDonald House Dream House Raffle. When she found out the good news, she actually thought it was a prank.
"I was speechless, just speechless that's all I can say." said Spencer. "I couldn't believe it."
Spencer purchased two tickets for the raffle and her inspiration for getting involved was actually her friend back east who is struggling with cancer.
"She lives in Pennsylvania but had to travel to Illinois to get the treatment she ultimately needed," said Spencer. "It really got me thinking about what do families do? I'd never really pondered that question and then a friend told me about this [Ronald McDonald House] and it all seemed to just dovetail together."
As for her plans for using the money, the Spencer's say they will definitely give back to the Ronald McDonald House. After that, she said she is still in shock over the windfall and hasn't planned what to do yet.
The Ronald McDonald House is required to sell 30,000 tickets for the dream house to come into play. Only about 28,500 tickets were sold so the winner walked away with the money. The house went back into the hands of its owner. This years raffle, however, was the most successful year so far. 350 other ticket holders split over $1.5 Million in cash and prizes in the final drawing of the 5th annual Ronald McDonald Dream House Raffle.
"The money goes to our operating fund that allows us to build this beautiful house and serve our community," said Bill Lennartz, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego. "Our mission basically is to do whatever we can to help the families that have children with serious illnesses here in our local hospitals." The new house has 47 bedrooms and will serve 20,000 families each year as a much-needed resource for the community as the critical need for services for these families grows.
The next raffle will begin on January 11, 2010.