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Mount Greenwood’s Matthew and Jennifer Hearn were packing and putting on the finishing touches Sunday night before leaving for Las Vegas the next day.

Shortly after 8 p.m., they won the jackpot.

Vegas odds tend to favor the house. But Matthew beat the 12,443-1 odds to win a house.

He was the winner of Gaelic Park’s first drawing for a new $700,000-plus home in the 10400 block of South Sawyer Avenue in Mount Greenwood. The 56-year-old retired Chicago police detective can move into the house or opt for $450,000.

Hearn was not present at Gaelic Park in Oak Forest when blindfolded WGN-TV news anchor Patrick Elwood pulled out his number — 03263. But when he received a call from Maureen Gill O’Regan from the Gaelic Park board of directors, Matthew said he was in shock.

“We’ve never won anything,” Jennifer said.

Matthew bought one $100 ticket in January. There were 12,443 sold.

“Friends in the neighborhood told us about the raffle and we saw the house with the big sign out there — we live right by there,” he said.

About 200 people gathered at Gaelic Park for the Sunday night house drawing. (Jeff Vorva/for Daily Southtown)

The North Side transplant said it was to early to declare if he was going to take the house or the money.

“Like I said, we’re in shock,” he said. “We never through we would win.”

A year and a half ago, he retired as a detective after serving “32 years, four months and six days,” he said.

The plan was to still go to Las Vegas because he said they haven’t had a vacation in years.

The house was advertised as being worth $650,000 but after all was said and done, Gaelic Park board member Mark Flynn said the cost was $705,000 with maybe a few more expenses.

The Hearns were big winners, but so was Gaelic Park, which raised $500,000 to go to Gaelic Park charities, many of which are youth oriented.

“We do scholarships for high schools for those in need,” board member Brendan Houlihan said. “We do a cultural camp in the summer and the past couple of years we had 120 kids, and we feature Irish sports, art music and dance.”

Roughly 200 people showed up Sunday for the drawing.

Roughly 200 people didn’t win.

Gordon Sharp of Monee knew the odds were stacked against him but still purchased five tickets.

“It’s a good cause,” he said before the drawing. “We were talking about the choice we would have to make — the house or the money. That’s a choice we would love to talk about. But it’s all for the cause.”

Bill Giffey, also of Monee, bought one ticket and said if he won the house, he would be closer to relatives who live in the Evergreen Park area.

“It’s a beautiful home but if we don’t win it, it’s a good cause, so it’s a win-win situation,” Giffey said.

The project was more than a year in the works.

Gaelic Park Directors Mark Flynn, left, and John Conroy speak before the house drawing Sunday in Oak Forest. (Jeff Vorva/for Daily Southtown)
Gaelic Park Directors Mark Flynn, left, and John Conroy speak before the house drawing Sunday in Oak Forest. (Jeff Vorva/for Daily Southtown)

One of the board directors, John Conroy, saw a similar raffle across the pond.

“After many, many, many months of planning, hard work and effort, we have gotten to the stage where we are tonight,” said Gaelic Park Director John Quinn before the drawing. “John took inspiration from a raffle of a condo in London. They sold 13,000 or 14,000 tickets.

“I remember Conroy saying, ‘if they can do it, why can’t we?’ And here we are today.”

It was the first undertaking of this magnitude for Gaelic Park.

“I think this went very well,” Houlihan said. “We started selling tickets more than a year ago. It had its highs and lows of pushing it and trying to get it going. Then, all of a sudden it just took off.”

Tickets were sold online and good old-fashioned tickets by hand. Houlihan said he sold 250.

The raffle was monitored by an independent auditing service.

“It was a fair run raffle and we all had the same chances of winning,” Houlihan said. “I would have liked to have won for selfish reasons. But someone else won and I understand what that’s all about.

“I like building up this place.”

Stuart Moyles of Ireland performs for the first time in the United States Sunday, before the house drawing at Gaelic Park. (Jeff Vorva/for Daily Southtown)
Stuart Moyles of Ireland performs for the first time in the United States Sunday, before the house drawing at Gaelic Park. (Jeff Vorva/for Daily Southtown)

Before the drawing, Ireland’s Stuart Moyles performed Irish, country and rock tunes to warm the crowd up.

He arrived in the United States for the first time on Thursday and closed the show having patrons form a circle on a dance floor while singing Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which morphed into “Sweet Caroline.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown

#Mount #Greenwood #family #wins #Gaelic #Park #raffle #house

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