Littleton resident Stephanie Ward and her family were initially hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine for a few reasons but mainly because of some possible long-term effects in her two children.
So a little over a month ago, Ward, her husband and two children — who she declined to name -- sat down as a family and ultimately decided the "benefits outweighed any fears" about the vaccine.
Fast forward to Friday, and nearly one week after the family received their second dose, Gov. Jared Polis announced Ward was the second million dollar winner in the Colorado Comeback Cash sweepstakes.
"I just did not believe it was real, because who wins a million dollars from a phone call?" Ward told The Denver Gazette. "I started googling (the caller) and searching the Colorado (Comeback) program and I was very shocked."
Ward was randomly selected out of over 3 million Coloradans that are eligible for the sweepstakes that began last week when Mead resident Sally Sliger was announced as the first winner.
Prior to being informed she was a winner from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Ward and her family barely knew about the lottery and never even talked about possibly winning, she said.
But after a little research, Ward learned she wasn't being scammed, called the health department back and then her husband who was overjoyed with excitement.
"He was there with his coworkers and he was like 'okay, okay, okay, I gotta call you back, and I'm like, no I want to talk to you," Ward said.
But without the family meeting a little over a month ago, the call would've never came, and Colorado's newest millionaire wouldn't be dreaming about paying off student debt, investing their winnings, or planning a trip to the Caribbean.
"We all had situations that we dealt with from work and with parents and with different school situations, and we all just really wanted to get back to normal and just do our part," Ward said.
For Ward personally, not seeing her mother for 14 months, family missing her sons football games, daughters graduation, holiday celebrations and experiencing a non-traditional funeral of her father-in-law -- who didn't die from COVID-19 -- pushed the family to get the shot.
The state will hold three more drawings between Friday and July 7, and aims to get people procrastinating or those on the fence about the vaccine to receive it, Polis during a said.
"Each person has their own reason for getting vaccinated any everyone who gets protected is a winner," Polis said in the press conference at the Governor's Mansion. "Don't wait, get the highly effective, free COVID vaccine as soon as you can."
Residents 18 and older who have received the initial dose of the vaccine are automatically entered into the contest. Additionally, residents between 12 and 17 are also entered into a scholarship sweepstakes that will award 20 more people $50,000 scholarships.
The initial five winners of the scholarship were announced on Thursday and the first $1 million sweepstakes on June 4.
Coloradans who have not yet been vaccinated will have until June 30 to qualify to the last drawing at the beginning of July.