O’Brien is one of the more familiar faces and voices behind the hugely popular Chase the Ace draw at St. Kevin’s Parish in Goulds.
And while the fundraiser has been a huge success for the parish, for O’Brien, it’s been just as important on a personal level.
“This draw really came as a godsend for me,” says O’Brien. “My husband died suddenly last August. The draw has helped to fill a gap by keeping me busy.”
O’Brien is one of the six original organizers of the parish’s Chase the Ace draw.
“I have a big mouth, and I can be pretty loud,” O’Brien said with a laugh. “So I was sort of self-elected to be the spokesperson for the draws.”
The Goulds jackpot is inching towards an incredible $2 million for this Wednesday’s draw. It’s something that none of the organizers or volunteers thought to be possible.
“It’s certainly taken us all by surprise,” said O’Brien. “We started with only eight or so volunteers, now it’s up in the hundred range.”
O’Brien told The Telegram the volunteers are mostly from St. Kevin’s Parish, but some are from other parishes, as well as retirees.
O’Brien said the volunteers are split into three shifts, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1- 5 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.
“Although I’m sure a lot of volunteers are excited for the end, I know they’ve all enjoyed themselves,” said O’Brien. “It’s a big social event for a lot of people.
“Many of the volunteers enjoy it so much, that they stay with me all day.”
O’Brien is the chair of the finance committee for the St. Kevin’s Parish, as well as the choir director and organ player.
“I’ve been attending the parish since I was 18 years old,” said O’Brien. “Wow, that’s 46 years.”
Over the years, O’Brien has helped organize small-scale fundraisers and garden parties for the parish but she said that no event has ever compared to the Chase the Ace.
When she is not busy with all of those duties, she works as a substitute teacher.
“I think working with children has given me patience,” said O’Brien. “Which was important to have during these draws.”
On July 19, the draw was postponed due to a printing error, where duplicate ticket numbers were produced.
“We’re all human, and we all make mistakes,” said O’Brien. “I just go with the flow. When you’re dealing with this many people, something is bound to happen at some point.”
It is confirmed that if the ace doesn’t go on Wednesday, the final draw will take place on Aug. 30. The format of the draw will be announced after Wednesday’s draw.
“We discussed several options,” said O’Brien. “We talked about moving it to a different venue or switching it to a different night, but it wasn’t working out.”
O’Brien told The Telegram St. Kevin’s Parish is used for weddings and bingo games, and is fully booked every weekend next month.
“We’ve been working in conjunction with Service NL,” said O’Brien. “I think we have come up with the best plan. I hope everyone will be happy with the solution that we’ve come to.”
“I’m hoping it goes, naturally,” said O’Brien. “We have two chances for that to happen. Once tomorrow night, and also if the ace is chosen right away on Aug. 30.”
By Aug. 30 at the latest, this draw will make somebody in the province a millionaire.
It’s been a wild ride for the organizers and volunteers of the parish. From delayed draws, to extended hours, they’ve taken in millions of dollars.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself,” said O’Brien. “I’ve met so many kind people, and the few times I’ve got to go out and socialize, I’ve run into people that I haven’t seen in years.”
O’Brien said that although it’s been enjoyable, they won’t be doing another Chase the Ace fundraiser anytime soon.
“We’ll give another organization a chance,” laughed O’Brien.
As for how the parish will spend their share of the money raised?
“We have a wish list,” said O’Brien. “We need new steps, the church tower has a leak and we’d love for our food bank to get freshened up.”
“I need a new set of choir books, so that’s what I’ll be looking for.”