The Downey family - Putnam Sentinel
The Downey family

COLUMBUS GROVE — Generally speaking, late Sunday evening is not one of the better times to receive an unexpected phone call. Fortunately for Michelle (Klinker) Downey of Seymour, Indiana (and formerly of Columbus Grove, CGHS class of ‘99), the surprising call was exactly what her and her family had been praying to receive.

On the other end of the phone was Michelle’s mother, Jan Klinker, calling to inform her that she had won St. Anthony Festival’s grand raffle drawing of $20,000 towards a new car, or $15,000 cash. A raffle in which Downey did not even know she had been entered.

“Overwhelming,” is how Michelle describes her response to the news. “We didn’t even know that our names had been entered into the drawing. My parents had purchased three tickets, I have a brother and a sister as well. Unbeknownst to me, they had put raffle tickets in for each one of us. So, I didn’t even know that our name was in to possibly win a car.”

When speaking later with Jan, she said that purchasing those tickets was actually something of a tradition. Since each of their three kids first turned 16 and began to drive, Jan and her husband Dave have purchased raffle tickets for them as well as for themselves. Having previously won the grand prize drawing three years ago, they decided that this year they would only purchase tickets for their kids.

As she related it, learning that her daughter had won sent Jan into a fit of excitement. She then had to call her and let her know.

“She didn’t answer her phone,” Jan relates, “So I was like, ‘Okay, I got good news,’ and then I called (Michelle’s husband) Patrick to tell him first. She then heard her husband’s phone, saw it was me, and picked it up.”

When Michelle’s mother reached her, the first reaction was disbelief, “My mom told us that we had won a car,” explains Michelle. “I just said, ‘No we didn’t. You’re kidding me. That did not happen.’ Because it was just not even on my radar. It was so surprising.”

“We actually have a larger family,” Michelle continues. “We have five children ranging in age from nine to four months. We had been recently praying about getting a larger vehicle. We also have a child in a wheelchair. So, getting a handicap accessible vehicle, we’ve been saving for that and praying about that.”

“Honestly, it’s just an answer to our prayers that would be able to afford a vehicle that will be perfect for our family. We were just very excited and surprised.”

Both the Klinker and Downey families thank St. Anthony’s for holding the raffle and all of the parishioners for their support.

“She grew up here in the parish,” Jan says. “And, we all know that God had a hand in this. She was so excited after I called her that she texted me back that she cried and she danced and she was singing aloud.”

“It just gets us that much closer to the goal we had set,” Michelle says. “Truly it’s just a blessing to our family. We’re overwhelmed and completely surprised. Never would I have thought we’d get to say, ‘We won a car!’ It’s just not something you hear everyday. That’s something that happens to somebody else.”