Perfect timing and a stroke of luck makes TMC custodian a Mega Raffle winner

Israel Chavez never considered himself unlucky, even though he’s never won anything really big. He believes it’s all about timing. He bought six tickets to the TMC Mega Raffle last year and didn’t win a thing. “I still felt good because I knew I was helping the hospital,” said the TMC custodian. Chavez said it simply wasn’t his time to win.

But this year, it was his time.

TMC Custodian  Israel Chavez

TMC Custodian
Israel Chavez

With the TMC Mega Raffle back for a second year, Chavez bought another six tickets. He didn’t win anything in the Appreciation or Early Bird Drawings, and quite frankly had forgotten that the Grand Prize Drawing was happening – until he received a voicemail from the raffle organizers. “I thought I won a coffee maker, or something small,” said Chavez. “But my wife convinced me otherwise. She said they wouldn’t call me for something like that, and thought we had won either the house or a car.”

Her intuition was spot on.

Chavez won a 2014 Cadillac and $12,000 to cover most of the taxes.

“I was so surprised and excited. I just couldn’t believe it,” Chavez beamed. He even pinched himself upon hearing the news in case it was all too good to be true. “We needed another car and were thinking about buying another one. It definitely was our time!”

Chavez is still debating whether to keep the Cadillac or sell it and purchase something a little less luxurious for everyday use.

Is he convinced that his Mega Raffle luck has run out? Absolutely not. He says he’ll purchase another six tickets when the TMC Mega Raffle is back for its third year in 2015.

“God told me I’m going to win the house next year!”

He could be the luckiest guy in Tucson…Here’s TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize winner #1!

TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize Winner #1 Michael Martin

TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize Winner #1
Michael Martin

Michael Martin has a big decision to make.

Move into a brand new home in northwest Tucson that includes $30,000 in upgrades, plus receive $100,000 cash.

Or, forget the house and opt for $576,000.

He’s already walking away with a brand new Mercedes.  The fact that he’s even pondering a dilemma like this still feels very surreal, he said.  Martin is the first-ever grand prize winner #1 of the TMC Mega Raffle!

He bought three tickets for $250, and admits he was disappointed when he didn’t win anything in the Early Bird drawing a few weeks ago.  “I figured I just made a nice donation to a good cause at a great hospital,” he said.

“I have a four-bedroom house already.  I actually had an appointment with a realtor for 3 p.m. one day to look at other houses so I could downsize.  At 1 o’clock that day, I got a call from Kathy Rice.  She left me a voicemail telling me I’d won the TMC Mega Raffle.  I didn’t believe it!”

He really didn’t believe it.

“My buddies play some pretty elaborate jokes on me.  I thought they were messing with me,” he said.  “I called Kathy back, and I still didn’t believe it.”  So, he called his parents.  “My mom said, ‘Mike – someone has got to be pulling your leg.’  I wanted to believe it, but there was always that thought in the back of my mind that people don’t really win prizes like this.  I hopped on the internet and started checking things out, and all of the pieces started falling into place.”  That’s when he started to think maybe the Mega Raffle was legitimate.  “I thought to myself, either this is the worst joke that’s ever been played by anybody, or this is definitely the real deal.”  Now that it’s starting to sink in, Martin says he’s on cloud 9.

TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize Winner #1 Michael Martin

TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize Winner #1 Michael Martin

Reality started to hit at the Mercedes dealership when he was looking at a shiny new roadster with his name on it.  “It was gorgeous – but I’m really not a roadster guy, so they’ve ordered me an SUV, no problem.  It was just a matter of filling out some more paperwork.”

The 38-year-old has bounced from his hometown in Arkansas to Tucson a few times since 2007 as part of his work for the Air National Guard.  He’s now here for good – and is trying his hardest to get his family to come join him.  “I called my parents and said, ‘I’ll take the house if you guys come live out here.  All you have to do is pay the utility bills.’  I did the same with my brother and his family.  I’d do anything to get my family out here.  Unfortunately, there’s just too much keeping them in Arkansas.” 

TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize Winner #1 Michael Martin

TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize Winner #1
Michael Martin

Martin visited the A.F. Sterling home and admits he’s tempted to keep it.  “It’s a mansion compared to what I have now.  It’s incredible.  The backyard would be perfect to have people come over and cook out.  The kitchen was amazing.  It would be a great bachelor pad!”

But with his family rooted in Arkansas, Martin says he’s about 90 percent certain he’s just going to take the cash option.  What’s he going to do with all that money?  At this point, he’s not sure.  Even after taxes, he’ll walk away with a pretty penny.  “I’m going to let myself use about 10-15 percent of what I end up with just to have fun.  I’m going to put the rest of it where I can’t get to it for about 3-6 months and just let the dust settle.

“I’m a big believer that if you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen to you.  I felt extremely fortunate before I won the Mega Raffle.  I’ve got a great job, and I love what I do.  This is a blessing.”

Congratulations, Michael, and thank you to everyone who supported patient care at TMC by purchasing tickets.  The TMC Mega Raffle will be back next year!

Timing is perfect for TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize winner #2

Imagine having one phone call completely change your life. 

TMC Mega Raffle Grand Prize winner #2 Janet McGee

TMC Mega Raffle
Grand Prize winner #2
Janet McGee

That’s what happened to Tucson resident Janet McGee on a Wednesday afternoon.  She was sitting at her computer printing out postage for a bill that was past due.  As she was frantically trying to race to the post office, the phone rang.  She almost didn’t answer it. 

“I picked it up.  Kathy Rice identified herself and told me I was Grand Prize winner #2 of TMC’s Mega Raffle.  I thought maybe someone was playing a trick on me, but I recognized her voice from the commercials.”  Stunned, amazed, and in tears, Janet set the phone down and ran to tell her husband Gary.  “He couldn’t believe it either,” she said.

Not bad, considering Janet didn’t purchase her tickets until after the Early Bird drawing.  “I decided to actually buy tickets because it was a great cause, with great odds.  I bought three tickets for $250, and then I put it out of my mind.  There were so many prizes, I just wanted to win something.  I had a feeling I may win, but I thought it would be a weekend getaway.  I never imagined it would be the 2nd grand prize!”  It’s pretty impressive for a woman who’s never won more than $2 while playing the lottery!

The task now:  Decide if they’re going to accept the keys to an A.F. Sterling home in southwest Tucson, and $50,000 cash, or just walk away with $336,000 cash.

It was a dream come true for the newlyweds, and the timing could not have been more perfect.

Janet has been unemployed for more than a year after spending 19 years working in Human Resources for a children’s behavioral health company.  Gary, a retired corrections officer, has been on disability.  Financially, Janet says, things have been extremely tough.

The pair met on five years ago.  In August of last year, Gary was diagnosed with three terminal brain tumors.  Three months later, the couple decided to tie the knot.  “We ran off to Las Vegas and had a very fun Elvis wedding.  I wanted to marry him so that I could help take care of him and give him everything he needs,” said Janet.  Gary, who was born at TMC, is now bed-bound.

Will they choose the house, or cash?  At this point she’s unsure.  The first order of business:  talk to an accountant.  “There’s a lot to figure out in regards to what is the best decision for us to make, but believe me – it’s not a bad problem to have,” Janet laughed.

Congratulations, Janet and Gary!

Thank you to everyone who helped support patient care at TMC by purchasing Mega Raffle tickets.  The TMC Mega Raffle will be back next year!

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461