After this family won $300 mln, things took an unanticipated twist.
Whilst the chances of winning the lottery are as slim as they can get, more than 80 million people throughout the country try their hand at the Powerball every year. The odds may be against them, but that doesn’t stop them from investing some money every week in what they hope will be the winning ticket.
Cindy Hills did precisely that: whilst going through a rough period in her life, she purchased a few tickets knowing very well that she had next to no chances of winning. That’s why everyone was so shocked when those exact numbers came up on television. That money was going to change her life forever, but what to do with it in the first place?
With one million you could buy a flat in New York City and make sure it has a good view of the Statue of Liberty. Even a small island if you feel like it. $300 million raise the bar a lot. When Cindy Hills won the big prize in 2012, it was going to impact everyone around her. She talked a lot with her husband before making a decision that made the whole community talk about them..
Shocking the community
What had started as an ordinary day in Dearborn, Missouri soon became a moment to remember. Although Cindy and Mark tried to keep the news for themselves, it soon spread throughout town and changed their lives forever.
Changing their lives
Before their win, Mark had been working in a factory, whilst Cindy was looking for a job after having been fired as a manager in an office. They had three grown-up sons and a six-year-old adopted daughter from China. A relatively normal life that was soon to be changed forever that day of November 2012.
Having only one income, Mark had to work extra hours at the factory whilst Cindy was at home looking for a job and taking care of their daughter. It was never easy to keep everything running.
Left with nowhere to turn
As the lack of money became more pressing, Cindy grew more desperate. She had to refuse full-time jobs because she feared she would be away from home for too much time to take care of their daughter. When everything else failed, she opted for a change of plans and conceived a new idea that would get her out of her situation.
Making a purchase
Cindy went to the local gas station and bought five different tickets. That day the jackpot was at a $587.5 million peak. She didn’t want to choose the numbers, so she went for lucky options instead. When she got back home, she forgot them in the car, not knowing one of them would soon become incredibly precious.
Not holding high hopes
Cindy didn’t really believe that her family, of all people, would be lucky enough to win. The following day she was driving her daughter to school when she heard that someone in Missouri had purchased the winning ticket. At the moment, she knew she had to run to the convenience store and check out the lucky combination. There was still hope.
The shock setting in
Cindy began searching immediately and sure enough there it was: the lucky ticket. Still shaking, she phoned Mark and told him that her heart was racing so fast she could have been about to have a heart attack. She was so excited whilst she explained to her husband that they might have won the lottery.
They couldn’t believe but there it was: they had just won half the jackpot for a total of $293 million. The money couldn’t have come at a better time: work at the factory had taken a toll on Mark and many in his family had started worrying about him. With that win they would be able to leave the days of financial insecurity behind them.
Spreading the news
With rumours about them beginning to pile up, the first thing Mark did was to get on the social media and explain that, yes, his family had been lucky enough to win the lottery. His son Jason added that he didn’t want his family to change because of the money. They won’t let the winnings go their head.
Helping the store
The Hills life was about to change, but they weren’t the only ones. The big prize was going to affect everyone else in town. First of all, Kelly Blount and Kristi Williams. Since it was at their store that Cindy had bought the ticket, they were legally entitled to the astonishing sum of $50000!
What would you do with that kind of money? Many of us might even have a list of things they would buy if they ever won. Mark and Cindy’s first thought was to adopt another child. Their young daughter, though, asked for a pony. Before anybody else could chime in, however, Cindy declared nobody would be using that money in the near future. For the moment she just wanted to go home and rest.
The Hills didn’t have any big plans yet, but they still had some ideas on how to spend the money. The first thing they did was to take their daughter to the beach, since she had never seen the sea before. Cindy had opted to take the whole sum in one sitting and declared that a large percentage was destined to scholarships for young members of the family (including future grandchildren) and for supporting adoption charities.
Love of a son
Their 26-year-old son Jason was more than happy to find out about the winning, because he soon realized that with that kind of money his father wouldn’t need to work anymore. He told the reporters that he thought that Mark deserved that win more than anyone else, after so many years of working at the factory trying to raise enough money. One thing he was worried about though: would the family stay the same after having won the big prize?
Cindy had similar worries as well. She feared that her family would be exposed to people trying to take their money away, not counting alleged friends asking for favours. She spent a good part of the time after the winning thinking about how she could protect her family once everyone discovered they had landed the big prize.
If one of your relatives called you and told you they had just won the lottery, would you believe them? Mark’s mother certainly couldn’t. Cindy called her minutes after she found the winning ticket, but she was so excited that she could barely talk. Mark’s mother told her to calm down and asked her for more information and Cindy finally managed to tell her they had won the lottery. She asked her to repeat that because she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She thought Cindy was just joking.
Talk of the town
Soon after the winning was announced, people started giving their opinions on the matter – and on the Hills. Neighbour Rose Downing, for example, told journalists that she believed Mark deserved every penny of that jackpot. She also added that, since Mark had always been very generous, she believed that the money would soon benefit the entire town. As the rumour spread, however, it wasn’t just the lottery that people were talking about.
Keeping secrets quiet
Soon word got out that Cody, the Hills’ 30-year-old son, had various problems with the law in the past. Public records showed that he had been charged with criminal damage as well as arson, and even spent some time in jail after being found guilty with aggravated assault back in 2008.
A chance to leave
One of the most immediate benefits the money gave the whole family was the opportunity to travel around the world with having to worry about the cost of flights or hotels. For Mark and Cindy especially, it also took a lot of financial pressure off them, as they wouldn’t have to worry about finding a job to pay their taxes anymore. They immediately started thinking about all the places they would visit. The first that came to their mind was China, their daughter’s homeland, as well as their home country in Ireland.
Trouble in the future
No more than three months after they had left, the Hills were back in their hometown. Since by then everyone had heard about their lottery win, they were curious about what made them come back so early. And most importantly, what were they spending their money on if not for travelling? Curiosity reached a point where some people were found spying around the Hills’ house in the hope of discovering what exactly was the newly-rich family doing. In all honesty, not the most sensitive neighbours in the world.
Since winning the lottery had been a blessing for them, the Hills decided that the only thing they could do was to give back some. They first donated some of the money to a series of projects in Camden Point, the area in which Mark grew up. It wasn’t long before people realised where that money was coming from. Cindy and Mark became immediately known around town for their generosity.
Talk of the town
One of the first people to praise their generosity was Walt Stubbs, long-time friend of the couple and chief at the local fire station. He told reporters that the Hills’ donations were going to have a big impact on the community, and he also praised them for holding up traditional values and taking care of their family. But Mark and Cindy had just started, and their contribution didn’t end there.
Helping the services
Soon their big plan became known throughout town: a new fire depot for the whole community. The old one was in need of renovation and they decided to build a larger one, with enough space for several vehicles, and closer to the main roads than the previous one. Not only that, they made sure it would be energy efficient and with enough room to double as living quarters for the firefighters.
Coming into problems
The project soon ran into a bit of a snag. Walt Stubbs declared that, all things considered, it would take more than 20 years to build the entire structure if they had to build it on their own. Mark couldn’t wait that long though. He had come to love the fire department and its members ever since the volunteers rescued his father on two separate occasions during the years. He felt it was his precise duty to help them as best as he could, just as they had helped his father before.
Making his mark
In a sprint of generosity and good will, Mark made sure to oversee every detail of the new building, watching the operations as close as he could until the project was completed. When it was finally finished, he and his family couldn’t have been more proud. He told journalists how much he respected and loved the fire department, and how proud he was of the help he managed to provide. Even though less than 1000 people lived in town, the new department could now provide the entire area with 24/7 ambulance service. All thanks to him.
Cindy and Mark’s generosity didn’t stop here though. They donated for the construction of a new ball field and added a consistent $50000 as a kind of “general-purpose donation”. Mayor Kevin Boydston used the sum to build a new sewage treatment plant, which allowed people to get rid of old septic tanks and provided clearer water depuration. The mayor himself couldn’t have been happier with the Hills’ decision.
When asked by journalists what he had to say about Cindy and Mark, mayor Kevin Boydston told them that he thought they deserved all the good the winnings could do to them. He thought of them as pillars of the community, as their generosity went a long way to help the whole town. Camden Point now had a new fire department, a ball field, and an up-to-date sewage treatment plant. Just as Walt Stubbs had predicted, the Hills’ donations had a profound impact on everyone around them. The best part was that Cindy and Mark still weren’t done with them. There was something else that needed their intervention.
What was Mark and Cindy’s next plan? It was soon revealed. One day they were driving around town and they happened to pass by their former Dearborn High School. They had both graduated there and, in the spirit of giving back some of their luck, they made a consistent donation to the school for a scholarship fund. Yet another act of generosity that left the residents both elated and astonished. Thanks to the Hills’ lucky winning, the whole town was being renovated. Shirley Hill, Mark’s mother, had something to say as well.
When she first heard of the couple’s winning, Shirley told the reporters, she had been worried that the outrageous sum might go to their heads and that they would end up losing it all in a matter of days. However, once she saw what Mark and Cindy were doing for their town, she couldn’t have been happier. She was so proud that they had managed to stay the same after the win, and, most of all, that they were contributing so much to the community’s wellbeing.
As wisdom has it, good deeds don’t go unnoticed. On July 2016 Steve Folck, president of Camden Point’s fire district board, gathered the whole town for an announcement. He said that the entire community, and the fire department in particular, were extremely grateful for the Hills’ generosity. Without them, the building he was knowing speaking in would have never been brought to life. He knew that Mark especially didn’t like to be the centre of attention, but felt that it was time that some of Mark and Cindy’s generosity be returned to them. He declared that the new fire department would be dedicated in their honour, so that no one could ever forget what they had done for the community.
Making it up to the Hills
Ending his speech, Steve Folck added that it wasn’t just the Hills’ initial donations that had made an impact on the community. The fire department, high school, and sewage treatment plant would continue to affect positively the whole area for many years on end. He told everyone that he was so happy that Cindy and Mark had managed to use the money for good causes and not let it go their heads. They truly are an example for everyone around them.