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Sweepstakes winner dreams about Hawaii trip

Mary Lou Pabst is convinced she had help from above in winning $10,000.

When she opened an envelope from the American Legion late last year, Pabst noted the sweepstakes tickets but set them aside.

Her husband, a long-time American Legion member, had died March 19 and she doubted she'd enter the drawing.

"I couldn't decide if I should send the tickets in or not," she said. "I have a feeling my husband reached down and told me to do it."

It's a good thing she did. A bevy of American Legion officials from around the state was on hand Friday to present her with the $10,000 check at the Hammond Village Hall.

Pabst said she hopes to use part of the money for a future trip to Hawaii. She also has a few Christmas bills to catch up on, so the money came at a good time for the recent widow.

"At Christmas time I was a little bit broke. It's worked out fine," she said. "I'm going to go put it in the bank," she said.

Five reporters from area newspapers showed up for the presentation.

Mike Rohan, fund raising chairman for the state American Legion organization, drove from Sun Prairie to be part of the event. He was shocked by the media attention.

"I didn't know this was going to be such a big deal," he admitted.

"We don't see this kind of money in this part of the country," explained Gordon Knudson, vice commander of the American Legion 10th District.

Pabst was the first-place winner in the sweepstakes held Jan. 16 as part of the American Legion's Mid-Winter Conference in Marshfield.

The sweepstakes helped to raise more than $200,000 for American Legion rehabilitation programs.

This year's drawing was the first time the Legion had experimented with a $10,000 prize. Previous sweepstakes had a top prize of $5,000.

All 74,000 American Legion members across the state of Wisconsin are sent tickets to participate. Most of the tickets are returned with money so that members can have a chance to win big.

Pabst has a bit of a winning streak about her. Ten years ago she won $10,000 in a drawing conducted by a pantyhose company.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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