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Chasing the ace in Glace Bay brought in more than money for the local legion.
The first successful run of the popular Chase the Ace fundraiser brought in more business for local shops and restaurants as well as new legion members.
The jackpot grew to $160,000 with only 17 cards left when Johnny May drew the ace and won a total prize of $188,888 which included his winnings from having his name drawn. On the fundraising side, $218,000 was earned and the legion shared the money with the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society.
Running over nine months, legion spokesperson Tom Kennedy and fellow executive member Jean Allen said the event became so popular they had to open the upstairs, book bands and increase staff.
"There were more people coming in early, going to restaurants for supper," said Kennedy. "Some would come to shop before heading over and there were people coming from North Sydney every week.
"I did pretty well (tip wise during Chase the Ace)," said bartender Casey MacDonald, who said he also worked extra shifts.
"When I was downstairs, the second bartender would come on at eight. Then it was six, then five, because we already needed him."
The Chase the Ace also motivated 14 people, who were volunteers for the fundraiser, to become legion members — something Kennedy said doesn't usually happen.
"That is huge for us," he said. "The membership is getting older and these people, these people are really into volunteering. That's what we need."
Of the money raised, $138,000 went to the legion for renovations and repairs, including the women's downstairs washroom. The other $80,000 was given to the museum society which is raising money for a new roof.
Allen said the legion will be transparent about how the money is used and noted it would help get a few major renovations done. She also said the event's success helped promote the legion itself.
"We had people who have lived in Glace Bay their whole lives and had never been to the legion. They said they didn't know they could come in," Allen said.
"Yes, we need money because we need to keep the building, but we're also in need of more people to make it a viable legion."
The licence is in hand for the Glace Bay legion's next Chase the Ace and the team is gearing up for another hopefully long haul. Once the tickets are received, sales will start and the first draw is expected to take place Feb. 15.
This time the money raised will be split between the legion and a number of other community organizations. The groups names will be drawn from a hat after the jackpot is won.
"We want to support as many groups as we can and putting into a bunch of little pots instead of just one," Kennedy said. "It was a long go. But we've had a little break and we're ready to get at it."