Big winners in London hospitals' Dream Lottery unveiled

They are regional hospitals, and the winners of the two big prizes from fall Dream Lottery draw reflect that. One is from Leamington, the other from Breslau.

But the winner of the 50/50 prize needed some convincing. When she was contacted by phone, Heather Whyte told lottery officials, “I feel like I’m being pranked right now.”

Whyte then expressed her appreciation. “I can’t believe it. I’m feeling so blessed, this is news of a lifetime!”

The Breslau resident will collect of $439,927.50.

The grand prize winner is Mary Difranciso of Leamington. She’ll choose one of three prize options; a south London home, a downtown condo or $1 million.

Lottery officials were initially unable to reach Difrancisco to tell her about the win, but say they hope to have her visit the home next week.

On hand for the Thursday morning announcement at the Dream Lottery home were officials from London’s three hospital foundations; the London Health Sciences Foundation, the St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

London Health Sciences Foundation President John MacFarlane expressed appreciation to those who buy lottery tickets, “Thanks to the community for supporting us. And, you know what, almost $35 million over the years."

St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation President Michelle Campbell says London has reputation of being a global leader when it comes to health care research and innovation and many of those programs wouldn’t be possible without funds raised through the Dream Lottery.

“The Dream Lottery project creates unrestricted dollars for our hospitals to explore innovative ideas, to bring in new medical technology that we may not otherwise be able to secure through our capital process."

Campbell points to an initiative just getting underway at the Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care, where virtual reality devices are being brought in.

“This is going to allow us to innovate some of our recreation program. That will enable some of our seniors living at Mount Hope to escape through virtual reality. Maybe go to the Caribbean, maybe visit Europe."

There were draws for numerous others prizes Thursday morning, including vehicles and vacations.