While the winning $1.5 billion lottery ticket remains unclaimed, there were victors in the recent draw. A group of 126 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses pooled their cash to purchase tickets in the lottery. They waited patiently for the announcement of the winning numbers – and when the night of the broadcast rolled around, the nurses were beyond thrilled to find out they won $10,000.
After taxes and fees, each member walked away with just over $50. Instead of running off to buy a nice bottle of wine or something for themselves, the nurses collected their money to do something unusual.
NICU nurse Stephanie Brinkman told KMOV News that she and the nurses knew $50 wasn’t enough to change a life. But then they started to brainstorm. What if they pooled their cash and donated it to the two who needed it the most?
After discussing the prospect amongst each other, Brinkman said they determined donating their money was the right thing to do.
“We never thought in a million years we would win anything at all and then we came one number away from winning $1.6 billion… The majority said, ‘let’s give it to our co-workers, our family, the ones that are in biggest need’ so that’s what we decided to do.”
The group split their winnings – more than $7,000 after tax – between a nurse named Gretchen Post and a neonatalogist named Casey Orellana. Brinkman told KMOV News what she whispered to the women when they handed over the cash:
“I know it’s not the $1.6 billion dollars but here is what we have to offer you. Hopefully, it’ll help.”
Sadly, Casey’s husband Phil was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and the prognosis isn’t good. Phil spoke to KMOV News about his illness:
“Since July, I have not been able to work. I have been getting various other treatments for wound care and at the same time, I had also found out the cancer had spread to my lungs.”
The Orellana family plans to use the money to pay their mounting medical bills while Gretchen Post has to use the money to pay for her son’s funeral. Jack Post was just 17 years old when he made the tragic choice to take his own.
Fighting back tears, Gretchen shared what happened to her youngest child:
“My son on October 23, died by suicide… Jack always had a smile on his face. He did not lead anyone on that this would happen… [The winnings are] actually going to pay for Jack’s funeral which I’m very grateful for.”
While nothing can ease the pain in these families’ hearts, hopefully the money will help ease the financial burden. We wish both families nothing but the best in the years and months to come – they deserve happiness after such heartbreak.
Learn more about this incredible act of kindness from the women’s coworkers below.