EUSTIS – The mortgage is gone and so is the truck payment, as well as the stress over monthly bills for a local couple.
For Stratton village residents Cheryl and Raymond Heikkinen, a winning scratch ticket for a total of $250,000 from the Massachusetts State Lottery means everything is now paid for, Cheryl said Monday.
The couple learned of their winnings on July 4, but there hasn’t been time to make any definite plans for the money yet, she said.
“I run the recreation program for 70 children in town, and I wanted to fulfill that commitment,” she said, “so my husband has been taking care of everything.”
Along with paying off items, they have also given some money to immediate family members and to the friend who gave them the ticket, she said.
“We hope to also do some home improvements, inside and out, and later in August take a week’s vacation, somewhere in Maine but we’re not sure where yet,” Cheryl Heikkinen said.
They had thought about a week in Aruba, she said, then realized there just wasn’t enough time to plan it.
It all started, she said, when they went out to dinner with a friend, Kevin Weirs of Medfield, Mass., something they never do, she added. “He told us that we’d been friends for a long time, and he wanted to give us the instant scratch ticket,” she said.
So, they went online July 4 to check it out and found their ticket was one of 40 that won $250,000 along with one $1 million and one $500,000 winner. A trip on July 5 took them to Braintree, Mass., to pick up the check and head straight back to their local bank.
While people in town are saying that it couldn’t have happened to a better couple, their friend, she said, still feels really good that he gave them the ticket.
He has no regrets that he didn’t keep that particular ticket for himself, she said.
“Being in a small community, everyone quickly knew about our winnings,” she said. “The bank, Camden National, put up a congratulations sign, and a lot of people in town have expressed how happy they are for us as we’re both hardworking people.”
The couple, both 46, have resided in Stratton during their lives together. She was raised there, and he has lived there more than 25 years, she said. They have three children, two adults and a 16-year-old daughter, Amber, who likes to shop, she said. The couple are also grandparents.
Along with running the recreation program during the summer, she works seven days a week during the winter as a housekeeper at Sugarloaf/USA. Her husband has worked at Stratton Lumber for more than 26 years, she said.
“We realized it wasn’t enough to quit our jobs,” she said. “but it’s a lot of money that will make the months easier. With just basic phone and electricity bills, the stress over monthly bills will be gone.”