True North Youth Foundation Playoffs Mega Raffle winners still in shock over life-changing win

May 15, 2023 9:53 am by Jason Friesen Dynamic Featured Image

The stakes get bigger in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and so do the 50/50 pots. That was the case for the Playoffs Mega Raffle for True North Youth Foundation (TNYF), who operates and benefits from the Winnipeg Jets 50/50 draws.

As opposed to just running standard 50/50 draws during the playoffs like they do for each Jets regular season game, the foundation decided to go big and combine the 50/50 pots of the first four games of the Jets’ first round series with the Vegas Golden Knights for a Playoffs Mega Raffle. While there would be a winner of $10,000 dollars following the first three games, the real prize would come after Game 4 with that night’s winner taking half of the combined pots. The hope, of course, was that the pot would grow and grow, and by the end, would be so big that people couldn’t help but buy a ticket for a chance to win.

And that’s exactly what happened.

The pot finished at over $1.3 million from those four games, meaning the winner would take home more than $650,000 – easily the largest pot to date for the TNYF. Even when combining the four previous largest pots in Winnipeg Jets 50/50 history, those four pots came more than $120,000 short of the Playoffs Mega Raffle.

There was a particular push for tickets during Game 4, the last day to get a ticket for the big draw, with over $860,000 in 50/50 ticket sales, smashing the TNYF’s previous single-day sales record.

One of those people who jumped in on that final day was Melissa Reinisch, who bought her ticket with 8 minutes left in the third period. To put it in hockey terms, she was looking for a game-winning goal in the dying minutes of the game.

“It was super last minute, but I had this feeling that I should buy,” recalled Reinisch. “I kept saying to my boyfriend Tom ‘I have a weird feeling we’re going to win’. I even texted my parents before the draw ‘Over $1 million in the pot, and the winner takes half. I think if I won that much money, I’d have a heart attack and Tom would have to call 911 for me.’”

Only an hour later, Reinisch and Tom Ciporski found out they were the lucky ones. Don’t worry though – no 911 call was necessary.

“Our reactions were completely opposite honestly. I cried and almost fainted,” continued Reinisch. “My heart rate was through the roof. Tom was screaming, laughing and jumping around! We were pretty shocked, and I think we still are. It hasn’t really set in yet that we actually won. It took us about four hours to fall asleep and we were only able to sleep for an hour or two that night.”

The other big winner, of course, is the TNYF. A significant portion of their funding comes from 50/50 draws and Jets and Manitoba Moose games each year, so to have such a big boost from the playoffs is impactful for the foundation.

TNYF Executive Director Dwayne Green noted that the Playoffs Mega Raffle was a complete community effort.

“It’s always amazing to see our community come together behind our Jets for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the same happened with this Playoffs Mega Raffle,” said Green. “Our entire foundation team along with the larger True North team really rallied together to get this off the ground and promote it. We even had full-time employees joining our part-time 50/50 sellers to meet the demand for tickets at the home games and the Street Parties. And of course, the Manitoba community did what they always do by supporting us.”

Reinisch is equally excited to know that the other half of the jackpot will be supporting Manitoba youth through the TNYF. She and Ciporski are regular 50/50 purchasers and are thankful to have an organization like the TNYF working in the community.

“We love everything the True North Youth Foundation stands for,” she noted. “Especially with Project 11, it’s really important to us that children are getting the opportunity to learn about mental health so young. We lost someone that we love dearly in 2020 to suicide, so we strongly believe in mental health awareness.”

Thanks to the generosity of the Reinisch and Ciporski and countless other Manitobans who bought Playoffs Mega Raffle tickets, the TNYF will continue to impact youth throughout the province.