Some players wish their favorite lotteries could be a bit more merciful. It may be something of a coincidence then that the nurses and staff of Mercy Children’s Hospital won big.
The staff of the neonatal intensive care unit play the lottery regularly. It has become a tradition among the women to pool their money together when purchasing tickets. They’ve been playing this way for years, with varying degrees of success.
Last month, the St. Louis area hospital staff hit a $10,000 windfall playing the Mega Millions lottery. Under normal circumstances, the group would divvy up the winnings between individuals equally based on how many tickets were bought. This month, however, two of their colleagues were navigating particularly difficult waters.
“We have a very stressful job, so it’s just something fun that keeps us going,” nurse Gretchen Post said. The nurses original started the pool as a way to ease the daily pressure they faced at their jobs.
Last month, the jackpot grew to a record setting $1.6 billion. Stephanie Brinkman, organizer of the pool, stayed up late to check the results. It wasn’t long before she started receiving messages from her colleagues that they had a winning ticket. “I was so in shock, I couldn’t believe it,” Brinkman said.
Unfortunately, the group learned that Post’s son, Jack, had committed suicide. The 17-year-old’s untimely death came just a few hours before the drawing. The crew decided that the best way to use the money would be to gift the winnings to Post for her son’s funeral expenses. The rest went to Casey Orellana, another nurse. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
Post immediately reported her colleagues’ generosity to the rest of her family. “It was a little bit of relief that I would have some money to help with Jack’s funeral,” she says. “It just came at the right time.” She mentioned that her son was thinking of joining medical school. “He was very compassionate and intellectual, so I think he would have done so.”