IT&E employee Tina Dela Cruz held two tickets for the 25th annual American Red Cross Club 200 but it was the one she got from the staff raffle they had at her office that won her the $15,000 grand prize Saturday night at the Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan.
A resident of Chinatown and an IT&E employee for the past 14 years, Dela Cruz said she was in shock to have learned that she won the grand prize.
“I can’t believe it,” she said.
Dela Cruz plans to share her prize money with her parents.
“I am going to give some of the money to my mother. It is hard for her because she has bills and loans that she needs to pay and it has just been really hard for her,” she said.
Dela Cruz said she had two raffle tickets—one that she bought from the American Red Cross and the other from the staff raffle drawing her office had before the event.
Over a thousand people attended Saturday’s 25th Club 200 and an estimated $130,000 in gross revenue was raised, according to ARC executive director John Hirsh.
“I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support,” said ARC chair Tayna Belyeu-Camacho. “I want to thank the CNMI community for the continued support. Without the community we wouldn’t be able to do anything as an organization.”
Saturday night’s extravaganza also celebrated the CNMI chapter’s 35 years of service.
According to Camacho, the funds raised will go toward the many programs the NMI Red Cross runs, such as disaster services, health and safety education, service to the armed forces, and service to the community and youth.
“I want to congratulate the organizers; they always do a good job,” said Gov. Eloy Inos. This year once again, despite the many economic challenges facing the islands…you can see the number of people showing up here and it’s for a good cause.”
Mili Saiki, a Red Cross volunteer for the past 10 years, said that she has seen how a disaster such as a typhoon can devastate the islands.
“I can see what a great organization the Red Cross is and the amazing job that they have done,” said Saiki.
The night also recognized two dedicated volunteers: Jean Sablan and Hen Horiguchi.
“These are two very special individuals who throughout the years have dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours with no expectation of any compensation award of any kind. They have humbly gone along and supported the Red Cross’ missions,” said Hirsh. “Both of these individuals have been instrumental in the success of the NMI chapter and the support of the Red Cross. They are true humanitarians.”
Sablan, 65, said she was surprised to receive recognition for her volunteer work. “I was not expecting anything. When you are doing volunteer work you are not supposed to get anything back but the satisfaction of extending help to the community.”
Both Sablan and Horiguchi have volunteered with the Red Cross for over 20 years through disaster preparedness programs, trainings, and events like the Club 200.
“I will continue to volunteer as long as my health allows it,” Sablan added.
Dancing the night away
The five-hour event had hundreds of spectators on their feet and singing to the D.U.B band from Guam and Spanish bagpipe musician Yuki Kojima.
Participants also came in costumes that were a “salute to service”—the event’s theme.
Bob Coldeen and Mili Saiki led the costume and dance contest segment of Club 200.
Tray Don and his partner, Amanda Allen, won the costume contest with their complementary “Mario and Luigi” outfit. This was a repeat victory for Don, who won last year’s Club 200 costume contest as a cowboy. Both he and Allen have attended the Club 200 for the past seven years.
Ekaterina Markova and her son Mark topped the dance contest, showing off their slick and smooth dance moves to old-school and modern hip-hop beats.
Markova, dressed as a nurse, and her son, dressed as a police officer, were first on stage and immediately caught the crowd’s attention.
“Every year I try to come here and enjoy and I like it. We might just be buying tickets but it can really help. This is great,” Markova said.
Fifty people were treated to a sweet surprise when Hirsh announced that there would be 50 instant cash prize winners. Audience members reached under their seats and fifty out of the thousands there found an envelope with $20-plus cash.
One of newest feature of Club 200 was the Treasure Chest prizes. Ticket holders were called to the stage to pick a key that would possibly open one of the three chests filled with over $2,000 worth of prizes.
Husband-and-wife duo Russ and Kanae Quinn were fortunate enough to each win a chest, totaling up to more than $4,000 worth of prizes ranging from a submarine ride for five from Auto Marine Sports to a month of unlimited yoga classes at Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan.
The couple has attended the Club 200 for the past 20 years and so far this is their third chest bundle prize.
“We are going to have a good time and invite as many friends as we can to participate with the winnings. We are happy to be lucky enough to win,” said Russ Quinn.
“The Club 200 has always been great over the past 20 years,” added Kanae Quinn.