Winning the lottery has crossed your mind at some point.
And after that thought, usually what comes next is what you would do with that cash prize. And usually, it goes towards paying off debt, a new car or a luxurious trip.
But one lottery winner decided to donate a huge chunk of her winnings to a group that was near and dear to her heart. Lerynne West is a single mom of three from Redfield, Iowa, who collected her $349.9 million Powerball jackpot earlier in the month.
“I realize this is a life-changing moment,” West, shared on Nov. 5th as she claimed her prize at the state’s lottery headquarters. “I’m excited to share my winnings with family and friends, plan to purchase a new car, and look forward to a long vacation — or several. I also plan to give to the causes and organizations important to my family through our newly established Callum Foundation.”
And its West’s plans to help others that struck a chord in many.
The foundation is a national support program and Maine-based retreat for injured veterans and their families.
“The Travis Mills Foundation has had a very special place in my heart because my dad was a Vietnam vet,” West, 51, shared with DeGeneres. “I come from a long line of people who have served in the military — three of my brothers — and I think it’s very important to me that we never forget the sacrifices that our soldiers and our families make for our security.”
West then pledged her half-million dollars, holding up a giant check on the show.
But it was not the first stroke of kindness West made.
Prior to donating to the veteran’s foundation, she donated a generous amount to the Callum Foundation – a foundation West formed named after her grandson, “who was born at 24 weeks and lived one day.”
Though tears, West explained that foundation will fund charities dedicated to poverty and hunger, education, animal welfare, and veteran affairs.
“When I won the lottery, I thought, I have a responsibility to do good for other people and to help out other people as well,” said West.
West is one of seven kids who was raised on a farm by her parents. Her father was a welder and her mother, a homemaker. According to her foundation bio, West began working various farm jobs when she was young — earning her GED and going onto have a series of “blue-collar jobs” before having her three daughters.
West worked full-time as well as attended night classes as a single mother, eventually going on to earn her human resources degree and worked in the field.
That is, up until her huge win.
And as the grandmother of six, West says she will focus her energy on her family and the causes that strike a chord in her.
Immediately after West announced her huge donation, DeGeneres told West:
“That’s incredible. You’re so sweet. It’s an amazing gift.”
And she couldn’t be more right!
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