By: Nancy Marchbanks

This wonderful event has happened here on the Coast, four times before. The first home was given away in early 2000, and the last house was presented in June of 2005. Due to the after math of hurricane Katrina,  the representatives of St. Jude were forced to wait to continue until the area had healed, and the right partners could be found to make it all come together. The first folks to step up to the plate were the Developers of Tradition in Gulfport. They very generously donated a lot where the house would be built. The fine people at Westin Homes also wanted to be a part of the new St. Jude Dream House Giveaway, and offered to build the house.  The two companies were a match made in heaven, and everything fell perfectly into place.
There are over 30 Dream Homes nationwide this year. The program began in 1992 in Lafayette, Louisiana through Dr. Donald Mack. Dr. Mack is a local Pediatrician, who is also a Board member for St. Jude. A friend who developed real estate in the area, donated a manufactured home to him, and asked that he use the property however he saw fit.  Dr. Mack decided to hold a raffle for St. Jude, and sold tickets for $100.00 each. Over $100,000 was made for the very first St. Jude Dream House Giveaway. From that moment on, Dr. Mack’s wonderful idea took on a life of it’s own. The following year, another raffle was held, but this time the house was built brand new, from square one. In the last 18 years, St. Jude has given away almost 200 homes across the country, and has raised more than $100 million dollars to care for children with cancer.
New Orleans Saints Coach, Sean Payton, came on board as Co-Chair of the St. Jude Dream House Giveaway through Joe Canizaro, who is the Developer at Tradition. Mr. Canizaro brought First Bank and Trust into the project, and Sean Payton is the spokesperson for the bank! When Coach Payton was approached to be a part of this, he was delighted. He was well acquainted with the work of St. Jude through his friend, and fellow NFL Coach, John Fox of the Carolina Panthers. Fox had been very involved with St. Jude for quite some time, and Payton was very anxious to do whatever he could to help. Our own Bill Homes, Director of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, will Co-Chair with Sean Payton.
A maximum of 6,500 tickets will be sold for the gorgeous home in The Village at Tradition. The price is $100.00 per ticket, and ticket sales began in August. The winner  will be announced live on WLOX, during a St. Jude television special on November 14th. The house is valued at approximately $565,000. It will be 3,770 square feet upon completion, with 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. Covered balconies, an outdoor kitchen with a private enclosed courtyard, and a walk through master shower are some of the very special features of this stunning house.
Had it not been for the participation and generosity of local businesses, the St. Jude Dream House Giveaway would still be on the drawing board. Several, well known, Coast mainstays have provided 12 wonderful prizes that will be awarded individually.  Each is valued at $1,000 or more! Extravagant shopping sprees, gift certificates, prize packages, and many other exciting surprises. Those who purchase tickets for the St. Jude Dream House Giveaway before midnight on Friday, September 24th, will be eligible for the very special Early Bird prize – A New Orleans Saints Experience!
85% of every dollar goes to the current and future needs of the St. Jude hospital. St. Jude was just voted the most responsible charity with money and was also chosen as the # 1 Pediatric Cancer Hospital in the country by US News and World Report. St. Jude has saved the lives of countless children, and you too can make a huge difference in the lives of children battling cancer.  Buy a raffle ticket, or make a donation…Do it today.

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