Renfrew – The winner of the new 2023 Kia Sportage in Hospice Renfrew’s Auto Lotto Saturday night is crediting her late husband for her good fortune.
Reta Behm of Haley Station lost her husband of 45 years, Gary, on April 3, and she said it was his insistence that she purchase tickets for the hospice draw that led to her winning the grand prize which was announced during Hospice Renfrew’s 15th anniversary gala Saturday evening.
Mrs. Behm, a well-known volunteer at Heritage Radio in Renfrew, wasn’t in attendance at the gala, but received the good news shortly after the draw in a phone call from Hospice Chair Gerald Tracey moments after her ticket was drawn.
“When Gerald first phoned me and said to me he had bad news, I was thinking somebody had been in an accident,” she explained. “Then when he said about the prizes, it still didn’t sink in, because he told me the bad news was, I didn’t win any of the subsidiary prizes.
“Then when he said I won the SUV, I said ‘what’, and he said you won the vehicle,” she added. “I said you’re kidding. Then I said are you shi—– me?”
At that point, Mr. Tracey told her she was on speaker phone and was being heard by 180 people attending the gala.
“It just really didn’t sink in until about an hour later,” she admitted. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I won the SUV, who am I going to tell?”
She then shared the news of her good fortune with her son, Joey Dellaire, who lives out west.
“It was such a surprise,” she said of her win. “Gary had been after me to buy those tickets for over a month.
“Finally, I went and picked them up at Olmstead’s in Cobden and I came home and said, ‘here’s the tickets, I got them’,”
Mr. Behm assured her at the time she was going to win the vehicle.
“It was like he was sitting on my shoulder. He had them draw that ticket with my name on it.”
Mrs. Behm said while she was intending to buy the tickets, she was busy caring for her husband, and it was his urging that made her go out and finally get them.
“Someone said I’d been looking after him for almost two years and now he’s looking after me now,” she said.
She purchased the tickets about two weeks before his passing.
The win comes at a good time for her as her current vehicle is seven years old and this past winter she put quite a bit of money into maintenance.
“But I’ve had a dozen people want to buy it already,” she stated. “Gary always kept his vehicles in good shape.
“But he wanted me to have the new vehicle and I’m going to drive it,” she added. “I’m not putting it up for sale, no way.”
The Behms were very familiar with Hospice Renfrew as Mr. Behm was a resident there for nine months. She said they have been longtime supporters and in addition to the purchase of the tickets, they participated in the 2022 Hike for Hospice and raised almost $3,000.
“And we will continue to do that,” she pledged. “Like I said to Gerald, I don’t think we would have had Gary these last nine months if it wasn’t for Hospice.”
“The care that he got in there was just outstanding,” she continued. “It’s just too bad it’s not twice the size.”
She said the fact the service is free to clients is nothing short of amazing.
Mrs. Behm said the only other major win she has ever had was back in the early 1970s when her three children, Joey, Johnny and Carlene, were students at Opeongo High School and there was draw for a new SnoScoot.
“I bought that ticket for $2. One of the kids only had one ticket left to sell, so I bought it. The draw was on Christmas Eve.”
Words of Praise
Lorna Lapointe of Pembroke, aunt to Jim and Brenda Lapointe, was invited to pull the winning ticket for the grand prize. However, before performing the task, she took a few moments to express her gratitude and praise to everyone who had anything to do with the building of Hospice Renfrew.
“It is my pleasure to be here on behalf of the Lapointe Auto Group,” she began. “It has been said you are rich only to what you give and as I look out and see all of you generous people here tonight, I know how hard you worked, because 15 years ago you built Hospice Renfrew and you continue to support it, and that’s an accomplishment to be proud of.”
Mrs. Lapointe went on to say there are things in life money cannot buy, such as love, support, kindness and respect.
“And you great people of Renfrew have given it freely to so many families in your community and area who will always cherish it and hold dear to their heart,” she said. “And that’s why, in my opinion, I think Hospice Renfrew is the best.”
Mrs. Lapointe’s late husband, John and his brother, Len, started Lapointe Bros. Automotive in 1972. Sadly, her husband died of cancer in 1990 at the age of 50. By this time, Jim Lapointe had been in the business with his dad and uncle for several years and he took over ownership of the business shortly after and then began expanding to the point he owned several dealerships in Pembroke, Renfrew and throughout Eastern Ontario.
Following her husband’s passing, Mrs. Lapointe began volunteering in the Pembroke community and said had she not had the opportunity to give of her time and help others, she doesn’t know what she would have done.
“It helped through that difficult time and I am truly grateful for that opportunity.”
She continues to volunteer in the Pembroke community today.
Lottery Is A Big Boost To Hospice
The lottery generated over $210,000 in ticket sales and donations and netted $153,200 after prizes were awarded and expenses paid out.
Hospice Renfrew board chair, Gerald Tracey, expressed his congratulations to Mrs. Behm and the 14 subsidiary prize winners and also his gratitude to everyone who provided the prizes, purchased tickets and the many outlets that sold tickets.
“It truly was a county-wide fundraising effort and the response from the public was overwhelming,” he said. “Many people who purchased tickets had nothing but good things to say about hospice, its staff and volunteers and the wonderful service it provides.”
He also praised the efforts of many Renfrew and area citizens who had a vision to establish a hospice in the community more than 15 years ago and thanked them for seeing their dream through to fruition. Two of the founding board members, Jim MacKillican and Connie Legge, were in attendance and were singled out for their outstanding efforts. Unfortunately, Edie Westbrooke, who was the catalyst behind the project, was unable to attend. Mr. MacKillican served as the first board chair and Ms. Legge held the position for several years, retiring in 2019.
Hospice Renfrew Executive Director Marjorie Joly, who headed up the Gala committee, was extremely pleased with the results of the lottery and the celebration.
“There were many hands involved in the planning and ultimate success of the evening,” she said. “We are grateful to everyone who supported this event.”
During the gala, staff and volunteers who have been dedicated to Hospice Renfrew since the opening of its door were honoured. Recipients of the 15 year service recognition were: Marion Kauffeldt, Personal Support Worker (PSW); Tracy Riopelle, PSW; Shauna Ryan, Registered Practical Nurse; Colette Yemen, PSW, and volunteers Patricia Debenham,
Millie and Neil Ritchie, Carol Ann Simson and Joan Skebo.
In addition to the grand prize winner, subsidiary prize winners were:
Angela Stone Butterworth, Beachburg, $500 cash donated by Buske Office Equipment, Pembroke;
Chris Gillan, Renfrew, $500 cash donated by Barr’s Sand and Gravel, Douglas;
Steve McCann, Eganville, $500 cash donated by BrokerLink Insurance;
Kevin Brydges, Kanata, Royal Lepage Team Realty, Gayle Jacques Broker;
Jeila Martinat, Eganville, $500 gift card donated by Olmstead’s Home Hardware, Cobden;
Connor Debruyn, Ottawa, $500 gas cards donated by 17 West, Cobden;
Valerie Searson, Douglas, $500 cash donated by Assante Financial, Pembroke;
Shirley Barr, Renfrew, $500 cash donated by Totally Auto, Eganville;
Katie Denault, Renfrew, $500 dining certificate at the Rio Rooftop Patio, Eganville;
Shelley Parks, Douglas, $500 cash donated by the Eganville Leader;
Carla Pilatzke, Renfrew, $500 cash donated by Conway Pharmacies, Eganville, Cobden, Beachburg;
Larry Polk, Renfrew, $500 cash donated by Bromley Farm Supply, Douglas;
Boyd Lani-Campbell, Renfrew, $500 gas certificate donated by Pikwakanagan Fuels;
Lindsay Gibbons, Renfrew, $500 cash donated by Preston Cull Auctioneering.
The gala was held at St. Joseph’s High School in Renfrew and was attended by 180 people. Among the guests were founding board members, members of the original building and fundraising committees, MPP John Yakabuski and wife, Vicky, Renfrew Mayor Tom Sydney and wife, Shelley, and Renfrew County Warden and Town of Renfrew Reeve, Peter Emon.
Other members of the current board attending were Donna Anderson, Bill McMahon, Jamie Cybulskie, Leo Hall, George Wade and Danielle Thomas.
A buffet meal was served by the Babbling Gourmet of Northcote who also gave away a door prize for a dinner for six at their location. It was won by Isabel Rekowski of Renfrew.