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Raffle winner donates $25,000 gala winnings to several local causes

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 12, 2014 at 8:18 AM

When Joe Herman’s numbers came up the winner in the recent Mountain States Foundation Spirit Gala raffle, he sidestepped a chance at his choice of three brand new automobiles and went for the optional $25,000 cash prize to help his community.

“I never had any idea at all I would win but when I was writing the check for the ticket I said a little prayer and I told God, ‘If I win this, I’ll donate it all,’” Herman said.“They called me from the gala that night and asked me what I wanted. I was kind of shocked and told them I’d think about it. As soon as I hung up the phone I told my wife I’d donate it. I’m not going back on my word to anyone, especially to God.”

And so he did.

Herman’s chosen beneficiaries are the Johnson County Community Hospital Foundation, a division of the Mountain States Foundation; the Johnson County Community Foundation, a division of the East Tennessee Foundation; the St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Pantry in Mountain City; the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Upper East Tennessee; and the Summit Leadership Foundation of Johnson City.

“I wanted to donate to things that help our community or youth and some of these to do a little bit of both,” the Mountain City businessman said happily. “I’ve already written the checks to FCA and Summit and I’ll write the other checks within the next week.

“I thought about it a little bit. Mountain States, of course, that was pretty quick. My church, St. Anthony’s pantry, that was pretty quick. I have done some things before with Steve and Dave McAuley (with the local FCA and Summit Leadership Foundation respectively). And I wanted to help them.”

The Johnson County Community Foundation’s grant and scholarships awards to nonprofit organizations and young people in Johnson County was the final clincher for Herman’s prize money. And the $150 he spent on the three gala raffle tickets he purchased went to the MSF help to outfit the new Radiation Oncology Center at Johnson City Medical Center. So in the end, he said, “It was a good opportunity for all.”

“Growing up my mom and dad taught me your word is your word and that’s still me today,” he said. “I believe God chose to me to win this one for a reason, because he knew I was going to donate it. None of the glory goes to me. It all goes to him.”

All total, the gala netted more than $200,000 toward the MSF’s $7 million fundraising goal for the new cancer treatment center, bringing the total raised toward the goal to about $4.8 million.

This year’s gala raffle prize choices — a 2014 Cadillac SRX, a 2014 Chevrolet Impala, a 2014 Chevrolet truck or $25,000 cash — were donated by Champion Chevrolet Cadillac which has put up the prize for the gala raffle every year for the past seven years and given away a total of $75,000 cash and four new automobiles in the process.

“We can’t thank Champion enough for all they’ve done to impact health care for the children in this region,” MFS President Pat Holtsclaw said.

Holtsclaw called Herman’s decision to pass on his winnings another part of the “circle of giving” initiated by Champion. “Champion gives so generously to the raffle and then Joe’s the winner and he gives it back to several good causes,” she said.

“We try to do a lot to help kids,” Champion co-owner Tim Copenhaver said. “The majority of the things we get involved with benefit kids. And with something like pediatric oncology, it’s important for kids who need treatment to be able to stay in this area and go to Niswonger Children’s Hospital for treatment rather than have to go out of state.”

The gala and raffle drawing were held Jan. 26 at the Millennium Centre. Champion presented Herman with the prize money Thursday at the Johnson City dealership.

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