An increase of natural disasters has crippled communities around the globe over the last decade. In May of 2016, Alberta, Canada, suffered a wildfire that leveled many homes in Fort McMurray.
As I live in a community recently hit by wildfires in 2017, watching the rebuilding process has been humbling and surprisingly slow.
Devastated areas spend months — if not years — dealing with insurance companies and fighting through local bureaucracies to clear away the remains of their lives and build anew.
Bill and Carrie Pendergast, who live in Fort McMurray, lost everything in the Alberta 2016 fire. They are still in the process of rebuilding.
He was in Newfoundland visiting his hospitalized father. On his way back to the facility, his father called and asked him to stop and pick up a soda.
Being a kind son, Bill stopped for the soda at a convenience store. He also bought a $3 6/49 lotto ticket.
The next morning his aunt excitedly announced that someone had won a million dollars in the lottery. Bill checked his ticket and was shocked to see the winning numbers in his hand.
Bill called Carrie, who immediately flew to Newfoundland to join her husband. “This is all like a dream,” Bill told reporters.
“It’s pretty awesome looking at a bank account with all zeros,” Bill commented at a ceremonial presentation by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation on Feb. 9.
“Our rebuild should be finished in the next two to four months so this is going to go a long way towards that.”
Not all the Pendergasts’ winnings will be used to finish rebuilding and then furnishing their home. Some of the winnings have been earmarked for some much-needed retail therapy of sorts.
Bill and Carrie are planning a vacation for themselves and their five sons, and Bill has his eyes set on early retirement and the Mustang he’s always wanted.
“I have always wanted a Mustang, and I will finally have one, I’m 100% sure of that,” Bill commented.
After nearly two years of grief, a chance stop for soda has changed the lives of this family as suddenly as the fire that took everything away.
We never know how the “butterfly effect” will play out in our lives.
Stories like the Pendergasts’ remind us that we never know what the future holds, but if we just keep going, there might just be a light at the end of the tunnel.
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