COEUR d'ALENE - Jean Mayberry trembled with excitement when she heard that she won the grand prize of the North Idaho College Foundation's 21st annual Really BIG Raffle: a beautiful, brand-new $288,000 house.
"I'm in shock," she said. "I couldn't believe it!"
Mayberry, 76, of Coeur d'Alene, was holding two tickets Wednesday evening in Cheamkwet Park as NIC Foundation executive director Rayelle Anderson announced the winning numbers.
"I bought this ticket for my son," Mayberry said in disbelief. "Right now he's in California, so I'm going to have to call him so he can get back here."
Mayberry said she had the opportunity to tour the house prior to the raffle.
"I thought it was gorgeous," she said while thanking passersby for congratulatory comments. Mayberry said she will "absolutely" be giving the house to her son, Bill Novelli of Coeur d'Alene.
"He'll probably pass out," she said. "I couldn't believe it. I looked at my ticket and I thought, 'That can't be me.'"
Mayberry said she has been buying tickets at the Really BIG Raffle for four years and always comes to the event. Her friend and neighbor Maxine Hanson accompanied her to the raffle, all smiles as she also congratulated Mayberry.
"We're both widow ladies," Hanson said. "She just asked me yesterday to come with her."
Mayberry dialed her son's number and her daughter-in-law answered.
"Linda? Bill just won the house," she said into the phone with a smile.
It was an exciting event for the 2,000 hopeful ticket holders as they sprawled on the NIC campus lawn with blankets and lawn chairs. NIC carpentry instructor David McRae and his band, Sidetrack, serenaded the anxious audience while everyone awaited the prize announcements.
Many looked forward to knowing who would win the house, which was built by NIC carpentry students.
Larry and Veronica Seabolt of Osburn were seated against the Edminster Student Union Building, keeping cool in a bit of shade. They have been buying raffle tickets for many years because their son, Errol, of Coeur d'Alene, went through the carpentry program.
"While he was in school, he talked us into buying a ticket, and we've been buying one ever since," Larry said. "This year, we bought a ticket, took the tour and got a free ticket."
"It's kind of neat, I'm glad we did it, and we love that house," Veronica said. "They did a really beautiful job. Those kids really know what they're doing."
Errol, who now applies his carpentry knowledge to commercial work, said his experience building the raffle house in 2009 is something that has stayed with him.
"To watch a house or to watch a structure blossom from nothing to finish, you really appreciate what it takes, as far as hard work, the skills and the brains it actually does take," he said. "And everybody has to work together, the trades have to work together. All the plumbers, all the electricians, all the carpenters, roofers, siding guys. They all have to work together."
Anderson, of Rathdrum, said the 5,000 tickets for this year's raffle sold out June 16, the earliest on record in the raffle's history.
"This year's house really appeals to folks," she said. "It is a big rancher in Post Falls right off Syringa Park, so I think that, coupled with people's love of the college, sold those tickets."
The more than $200,000 generated by raffle ticket sales will go to scholarship, technology and program needs at the college. Bonus and early-bird prizes were awarded to several ticket holders, including gift cards, a fire pit and NIC gear.
Other big winners
• David Yearout of Coeur d'Alene, $20,000 car
• Rachelle Williams of Coeur d'Alene, $10,000 boat
• Dusty Rhoads of Coeur d'Alene, $3,500 vacation
• Kory Lazelle of Post Falls, $2,000 shopping spree.
Kristi Allan, her daughter Olivia Allan, 5, and her mother Lou Slack wait for the next winner to be announced at North Idaho College’s Really BIG Raffle on Wednesday night.
Jerry Crane and his daughter Zayda crane, 3, wait for the start of North Idaho College’s Really BIG Raffle on Wednesday night. Five thousand raffle tickets were sold and around 2,000 people attended the raffle.