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Aces! Beresford couple take home $8.2M fundraiser jackpot

Danny and Murielle Robbins were the lucky winners of a Chase the Ace fundraiser that has gone on for 47 weeks. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Danny and Murielle Robbins were the lucky winners of a Chase the Ace fundraiser that has gone on for 47 weeks. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada - image credit)

It takes a meticulous alignment of the stars to have your ticket chosen from 753,000 others. But then to pick the winning card in the deck on top of that?

For Danny and Murielle Robbins of the northern New Brunswick community of Beresford it seemed too far-fetched to even dream.

"I was screaming," Murielle said Wednesday.

On Tuesday night in nearby Petit-Rocher, the couple's ticket was chosen for the Chaleur ATV Club Chase the Ace. They  they went on to draw the ace of hearts out of the remaining five cards, securing them the $8.2 million jackpot.

The pair's son and his girlfriend have also been buying tickets, so the Robbins decided to split the prize money four ways.

A Chase the Ace fundraiser typically runs weekly, and people must buy a ticket each week to be considered. A ticket is drawn from the pot, and the ticket holder then gets to draw from a deck of cards.

If the ace of hearts is selected, the game ends with that person winning the grand prize. If it isn't selected, the holder  wins a consolation prize and their chosen card is removed from the deck.

After the Beresford pair had their ticket drawn from the swimming pool-sized pot, they drew the ace out of the five remaining cards.
After the Beresford pair had their ticket drawn from the swimming pool-sized pot, they drew the ace out of the five remaining cards.

After the Beresford couple's ticket was drawn from a pot the size of a swimming pool, they drew the ace out of the five remaining cards in the deck. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada)

Chase organizer Wendy Aube said she recalls the moment Danny and Murielle Robbins walked into the hall after the couple's ticket was chosen from the pot.

"I looked at Murielle, because we know both of them personally, and when Murielle walked in, she looked at me and her knees kind of buckled, and I thought 'Oh, my god, she's going to drop to the floor.'"

Aube said the whole evening was electric, with about 200 people in the hall to watch the draw.

The growing number each week had people from all over the Atlantic provinces and beyond rushing to buy the $5 tickets So it was especially special when a local ticket was drawn, said Aube.

"Tears were running down our face," she said. "Everybody that supported us, we appreciate them. But when you have a big draw like that, and somebody local wins, it's even more exciting."

Aube said the total for how much the fundraiser brought in still hasn't been finalized, but within the next month, the money will be shared with various groups.

The main group, the ATV club, will use the funds to improve trails in the region. The Friends of Healthcare organization, of which Aube is the director, will also take home some of the profits, with the goal of putting the money back into community health care. Three seniors clubs and the snowmobile club will also benefit.

René Beaudet, another organizer of the Chase the Ace, said he was both sad and relieved to see the fundraiser come to an end.

"It's been going on for close to a year now, every Tuesday night," he said.

"In our case, where I was responsible for the tickets, it was practically a seven-day-a-week job. So as a volunteer, it's very demanding."

Beaudet said he's also happy to see how the fundraiser has benefited the community over the year.

Each time a ticket was drawn but the ace wasn't selected, a consolation prize was given to the winner, getting bigger and bigger each week.

Beaudet said the group's last Chase the Ace ended at about $1 million, so the goal this time was to break that number — which it did by about eightfold.

He said he's already had stores in the community asking when the next Chase the Ace will begin, but after 47 straight weeks, Beaudet said, a break of five or six months is in order.