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Farmington Hills

Rotary sees big donations and a big win with progressive raffle

November 28, 2012

» click to enlarge «
Todd Lipa shows off the winning lady Nov. 15 during the weekly Farmington Rotary Club Queen of Hearts raffle drawing at John Cowley & Sons pub in Farmington.

FARMINGTON HILLS — One Farmington Hills resident had plenty of things to be grateful for on Thanksgiving. In fact, Todd Lipa had 13,800 new reasons to be thankful.

Lipa, who is the director of Youth and Family Services for the city of Farmington Hills, was the lucky winner Nov. 15 at the Farmington Rotary Club’s weekly Queen of Hearts progressive raffle. The fundraiser has been bringing in money each week, since early February, to benefit the club’s many charitable efforts, according to Rotary President Philip Abraham.

“(The raffle) runs for the year, regardless of how many times there’s a winner,” said Abraham. “Proceeds go to all of our charities. We support just about all the local organizations in Farmington and Farmington Hills. Some go to help kids in the area, some go to scholarships, the Goodfellows, cancer — it doesn’t really matter, any organization. It’s all really a pile of money that we distribute to do their good deeds with.”

To play the game, Rotary members sell raffle tickets throughout the week for $1 each. Tickets are also available for purchase at John Cowley & Sons Pub at 33338 Grand River Ave. in Farmington. On Thursday evenings, Rotary members and eager entrants gather at the pub to see if their raffle ticket is drawn. One ticket stub is picked each week, and the person drawn — present at the pub or not — gets the chance to draw for the Queen of Hearts.

According to Abraham, the pub is home to a cabinet stocked with 52 envelopes, each one containing a playing card.  Each week, a different raffle winner is selected to try their luck at the cabinet in hopes of selecting the one envelope containing the Queen of Hearts. If the card is found, the winner takes home 60 percent of the pot accumulated. If not, the pot rolls over until the next week, much like a lottery.

For 42 weeks, the Queen of Hearts eluded raffle winners, and the pot grew to an impressive $23,000. But Lipa ended the losing streak when he chose envelope No. 40.

“Todd Lipa is a really deserving winner,” said Abraham. “Well-respected and well-known in the community. We were really pleased to see Todd be our first Farmington Rotary Queen of Hearts progressive raffle winner.”

As one might expect, Lipa was pretty pleased with the win, as well. After taxes, he’ll take home around $13,800.

“I was very fortunate last Thursday night,” Lipa said a few days after his win. “I was sitting there not thinking I would win a thing, then my name was pulled. I got to take a buddy of mine up there, I rubbed his head for luck and sure enough …”

Lipa said he plans to make a contribution to the Farmington Public Schools Educational Foundation with some of the money, as he’s been looking to play a bigger role in the organization.

“As much as we (the Youth and Family Services After School Program) do with the schools, and being a part of the Farmington Public Schools in the two cities for as long as I have, I’m committed to doing that. It’s just one of those things I think is important.”

He also has his sights set on a bit of a splurge — he’d like to purchase a seat from the University of Michigan Stadium for his home. He works part-time for the university and says the seat is something he’s looked forward to getting for a while. After that, any funds left over will go into savings.

Though Lipa emptied the large pot with his win, the raffle will continue for another nine weeks. The playing cards will be shuffled and people can purchase tickets for the game each week in hopes of striking it rich, while helping to support a great cause at the same time.

Players who have their raffle ticket drawn but don’t find the Queen of Hearts don’t walk away empty handed, said Abraham. Gift cards are given to those who pick a card but don’t win.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the raffle, email the Rotary at Players do not need to be present for the drawing to win. Drawings are held at 9 p.m. each Thursday at John Cowley & Sons Pub in Farmington.

About the author

Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki covers Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Franklin and Bingham Farms along with Birmingham Public Schools, Oakland County Parks and Recreation and Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center. Esshaki has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2011 and attended the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Oakland Community College.

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