Sara Dixon got vaccinated for many reasons — to go to trampoline parks, attend big events again, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among her friends. Receiving a $25,000 cheque was just a bonus.
"I was dancing around. I was so excited," Dixon, 13, said.
Her family took a phone call and learned Dixon was one of 10 youths to win a $25,000 scholarship through Manitoba's Vax to Win lottery.
The lottery was far from her mind when the Grade 8 student got her second jab in August. She did so to protect her classmates, and she hopes they'll do the same.
"I feel a lot of safer," she said about her peers being vaccinated.
The scholarship is great, she said. She wants to be a lawyer when she gets older, so she's preparing for many years of school.
Dixon toted her oversized, symbolic cheque through the RBC Convention Centre Tuesday morning. Other recipients of the province's Vax to Win lottery did the same, once their name was called by Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton or Advanced Education Minister Wayne Ewasko.
Winners needed to be double-vaccinated on or before Sept. 6 to qualify. People who got their shots from a Manitoba immunization clinic, pharmacy or medical centre were automatically entered into the draw.
"I'm shocked. I didn't sign up to get the lottery; I signed up to get vaccinated," said Russell Peters, one of the seven adults to win $100,000 through the contest.
Peters, who is from Morden, was chosen from Southern Health's vaccinated pool.
"I want to keep my family safe," he said. "I want to be able to... go to a Jets game, stuff like that."
He'd forgotten about the lottery until he received a phone call — he thought it was a scam at first. Now, he'll pay some bills, help his kids.
"I just want to be able to do stuff, the way it was," Peters said. "Getting vaccinated, it's a small step. We have a long ways to go yet."
As of Tuesday, 85.2 per cent of eligible Manitobans had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine; 81.2 per cent were double-vaccinated.
Vax to Win, which was created to encourage people to get their shots, went well, said Manny Atwal, president and CEO of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. The Crown corporation played a large role in the lottery.
"We wish the numbers were higher, but I think it's help(ed) us (move) in the right direction," he said.
Cuba Bazimya, Inderjit Virdi and Michaelle Cruz from the Winnipeg health region won $100,000. They were joined by Gertie Bruce, from the Interlake-Eastern region; Edward Queskekapow, from the northern region; and James Hopfner, from Prairie Mountain Health.
Tristan Plourde, Levi Alexander, Christian Anthony Dizon, Theo Friesen, Ellen Clark, Drew Hall, Aubrey Trenholm, Oluwademilade Oni, Paul Concha and Dixon snagged $25,000 scholarships.
The first round of winners, who needed a first dose on or before Aug. 2, were announced in August.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.