Nancy Smith was about to eat dinner when she received the news.
“Did you win the St. Jude’s Dream Home?” a text from her friend read.
“I don’t know. Did I?” Smith responded.
Right after, she received the call from St. Jude telling her she won the 2020 Bakersfield St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced Smith as the winner Thursday. The giveaway is decided by a raffle — only $100 a ticket to enter. This year, $1,042,900 was raised for St. Jude. The rules to enter are simple: You must be over 18 years old and have no affiliation with sponsors or St. Jude, said Amanda Soto, a development specialist for the hospital.
Smith has been purchasing tickets for the raffle since it started in Bakersfield 17 years ago.
She doesn’t know what she’ll do with the house yet but between her two sons and their respective families, she’s certain it’ll be home for someone.
“I have no idea what to do with it,” Smith said. “I’m still in shock.”
Located in the Montana Ridge community of southwest Bakersfield, the house was built by John Balfanz Homes Inc. This is the sixth house built for St. Jude by the construction company and the 16th home to be built in this market. The home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a contemporary style, said project manager Jacob Balfanz.
St. Jude and John Balfanz Homes Inc. make plans for which plot of land will be used and once finalized the team gets to work, Balfanz said. Raffle tickets can’t be sold on the internet in California so it’s always been an uphill battle to get the word out, Jacob Balfanz said.
“We promote the heck out of it,” he said. “We want to raise as much money for these guys as possible.”
The Giveaway Program, celebrating its 30th anniversary nationwide, has raised more than $455 million for patients and families of St. Jude and has given 530 houses away across the U.S. It’s one of St. Jude’s largest single-event fundraisers. All proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for treatment, travel, housing and food, Soto said.
Other prizes for the 2020 giveaway include a cruise for two, fuel for a year, a $10,000 shopping spree and more. For a list of winners and prizes, visit stjude.org/give/dream-home.
“I never thought I would win but I suppose someone has to,” Smith said. “You can be sure that I’ll be buying a ticket next year.”