There will be no St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway here in 2014

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJune 26, 2013 

There will be no St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway here in 2014.

Mark Cantrell, who has served as a chairman of the project since its inception in 2002, blamed declining ticket sales as the reason St. Jude chose not to continue in Columbus.

"We've sold as many as 8,500 tickets for the home in the past. This last time, we sold approximately 4,700." Cantrell said. "Ticket sales have been declining the last few years."

In the program, people bought tickets at $100 apiece for a chance to win a house usually valued at more than $300,000. Other prizes, all valued at more than $1,000, were also available.

Cantrell said he is proud of the Columbus program which, he said, has raised approximately $8.5 million for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

"I'm not saying the Dream Home is gone for good," Cantrell said. "St. Jude feels that sometimes it is good just to take a break."

He said the St. Jude Radiothon, which usually raises about $100,000, will continue in Columbus.

"Ticket sales began to drop off when the economy went bad a few years ago," Cantrell said of the giveaway.

This year's winner was a retired nurse Linda Whitt of Mauk, Ga. who claimed the house on Pebblebrook Lane.

"This is unbelievable," Whitt said after hearing the news in April.

The first winner in 2002 was Mary Gist, who worked in the finance and accounting office at Fort Benning.

That house on Glen Valley Drive in Midland, Ga. was valued at $225,000.

The program, which is now in about 30 cities, including Nashville, Tenn. and Tulsa, Okla, involved, was created in 1991 by Dr. Donald Mack in Shreveport, La.

"We were the first program in Georgia and one of the first in the south," Cantrell said.

One reason Columbus was chosen to have a program was because of the support Columbus had given St. Jude in the radiothon.

The lone program now in Georgia will be the one in Warner Robins.

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