American Red Cross sells 1.3K tickets
Lillian Bennett held Saturday night the winning ticket to the $15,000 grand prize of the 26th annual American Red Cross Club 200, hosted at the beachside of Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan.“When I heard my name my heart started to pump really fast. For me, this is a miracle and I thank God for it,” she said.
Her ticket, 0114, was one of two that Bennett purchased just a week before the event from Red Cross board member Nola Hix. Bennett said she plans to use the money to help her three children in the mainland and pay bills.
“I have never won anything in my life. This just goes to show that it does not matter who you are or who you support. As long as your heart is there and you are participating to make a difference, good things will happen,” she added.
This was the first time for Bennett and her husband, Ambrose, to attend the Club 200 event.
“This year I was able to afford to come to the event and just decided to take my husband out with me,” she said. “My kids, when they were here, were volunteers of Red Cross.”
Like Bennett, over a thousand other guests attended the event with hopes of hearing their ticket number announced by the emcee.
Hix told Saipan Tribune that the fundraiser enables the Red Cross chapter on Saipan to be first responders “when Mother Nature calls. …This fundraiser every year also allows us to give those resources to our over 50 volunteers that work around the clock every day.”
CNMI Red Cross executive director John Hirsh said the Hawaiian luau-themed event sold 1,300 tickets and was larger than last year’s fundraiser.
Of the funds raised at the event, 91 percent of the money will go toward disaster relief resources and services and the remaining 9 percent will pay for administrative costs.
Red Cross officials also took time during the five-hour event to recognize businesses and individuals who have dedicated their time and service to those in need during and after a disaster strikes on island and around the globe.
Joeten Super Store and PHI Pharmacy were both acknowledged for continuously supporting the Red Cross by allowing some of their employees to leave work in order to assist in a disaster relief effort.
For Joeten Super Store, Dean Ocsillos was presented a certificate for his involvement in the Red Cross for the past 17 years. According to Hirsh, on some occasions Ocsillos gets up in the middle of the night to respond to a family in need.
“He is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is ready to respond as a member of the disaster action team,” Hirsh said.
PHI Pharmacy’s Claudine Atalig was recognized for her 20-year membership in the Red Cross Saipan Chapter. Atalig is also a member of the disaster action team and has flown to the mainland to assist in major disasters.
Kennedy Benjamin and Jennifer Deleon Guerrero were recognized for their outstanding commitment to the Saipan Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“We are grateful to have all of these people with us. They are a part of our family. They take time away from their family to respond to a fire or flooding. They help people in the community that they do not even know,” Hirsh said.
Enjoying the night
The night also featured performances by Spawnbreezie and Tasi and Ali’s Dance Group.
In addition to the food and entertainment, some guests also showcased their luau outfits on stage.
For the second year in a row, Amanda Allen and her partner, Tray Dunn, were crowned the winners of the costume contest—dressed as a hula dancer and a pig on a roasting stick, accompanied by their friend, William Schroeder. Both she and Dunn have attended the Club 200 for the past eight years.
Sixty people were treated to a sweet surprise when officials announced that there would be instant prize winners. Audience members opened their program booklets and those with a numbered Red Cross sticker won instant prizes such as gift certificates to Saipan businesses and Thanksgiving dinner packages.
Continuing its tradition of giving away Treasure Chest prizes, ticket buyers were called to the stage to pick a key that would possibly open one of the three chests filled with over $2,000 in prizes. Vechov Naum unlocked the first place Treasure Chest prize, which was worth $2,186 in prizes.
Jean Sablan, a long-time support of the ARC and last year’s winner of the most dedicated volunteer award, described the event a success.
“Everyone is having fun while being relaxed and comfortable. We need people to continue being interested in supporting this organization. Everything we make is for the community,” she said.