The first time Walter ‘Happy’ Hapanovich saw his own life-size photo standee displayed at a local grocery store, promoting the Group Health Centre’s Big Wish Mega 50/50 Lottery, he says it was with mixed emotions.
“It was very humbling that the Group Health Centre would do this for me but it also made me sad that I can’t be out there in-person,” he says. Neither he nor other top seller, Gerald James Shaughnessy, or any other ticket sellers, will be selling Big Wish tickets in-person this year due to COVID concerns.
“With COVID, there was way too much risk for many of our ticket sellers to be handling cash and out in the public,” says Logan Kennedy, GHC Trust Fund Coordinator. “But we wanted to find a way to get our top two sellers involved, and acknowledged, without actually having them physically involved.”
Life-sized photo standees, like the ones often used at the cinema to promote lead characters in movies, each feature signs that can be rotated with information on the GHC’s annual Big Wish MEGA50/50 draw, which takes place on January 1, 2021. The photos standees can be found at Pino’s, Rome’s Independent Grocer, Canadian Tire, Scotiabank at Station Mall or the Mill Market.
The longevity of their commitment to ticket sales – with Walter ‘Happy’ having 20 years and Gerald having 18 years at the ticket table – is what prompted those two to be the standouts.
“They know everybody!” says Logan. “We do appreciate every ticket seller who donates his or her time to help us because we are honoured to have such a committed group of volunteers.”
‘Happy’ says his involvement selling tickets goes back 20 years but technically he has personally supported the health centre since the early 1960s.
“Back then, we had had payroll deductions to finance the health centre,” he says. ‘Happy’ was one of the thousands of Sault Ste. Marie steelworkers who founded the first union-sponsored community health centre in Canada.
For Gerald, getting involved as a volunteer ticket seller was his way of paying back the nurses who had helped his brother who died of pancreatic cancer.
“I wanted to find a way to re-pay, to give back, for the medical care that he received,” he says. He is also sorry about not being able to be back at the ticket table, this year, and promoting a good cause in the community. He enjoys seeing so many familiar faces and making new friends.
“I miss seeing everyone and thanking them for helping Group Health Centre in the past and am hoping that they’ll still support this great cause,” he says. “Group Health Centre has always been very good to us as volunteers and I really think a lot of them.”
‘Happy’ also echoes the same sentiment of how great it has been to have an opportunity to help and engage with the community.
“I love seeing people I’ve worked with or connected within the sports community,” he says. “We now have three generations of my family connected to Sault Minor baseball plus I’ve been involved with hockey and football so that adds up to knowing a lot of people!”
Another sweeping change to Big Wish Draw is the conversion to a 50/50 draw with a grand prize minimum guarantee of $100,000. Weekly draws for $2,500 are being held until December 18. On December 25, there will be a bonus draw of $10,000. Tickets are sold in lots of 5 for $15, 25 for $25, 80 for $40, or 250 for $100.
“All proceeds raised will go towards the purchase of medical equipment,” says Kennedy.