Bob Brehl gets up close with the Honda sports car he won in a raffle at Jays Care. Photo courtesy of Bob Brehl

Comment: When good fortune smiles, sharing follows

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  • June 8, 2017

One Saturday night years ago, my mother won a trip to Monaco and the French Riviera in a raffle. The next morning, I remember her putting more money in the collection plate than usual.

I asked her why and she responded, “When good fortune smiles, you should share as best you can, otherwise she might not smile on you again.”

Those pearls of wisdom have stuck with me over the past 45 years. I’m not a rich man by most financial standards in Canada, but fortune has smiled on me lots over the years. I just need to look at my wife and children to be reminded.

Last month, a generous client and friend, Phil Lind, invited me to his table at the annual Jays Care Foundation “Curveball” gala at the Rogers Centre. I’d been to one a few years back and it’s pretty cool.

All the Blue Jays attend, mingle with guests and the outfield is turned into a fancy dining hall for the evening. And the gala raises large dough for the Jays Care Foundation, a worthwhile charity.

As a baseball fan, I really like the charity because “we use baseball to teach life skills and create lasting social change for children and youth in marginalized communities across Canada,” its website reads.

Each year, Jays Care and its partners provide more than 65,000 Canadian children and youth safe spaces to play and the opportunity to develop valuable life skills such as teamwork, leadership, resiliency, confidence and self-esteem. With such good work, there’s little wonder why every one of the multi-million-dollar Blue Jays give up one of their rare off-days to attend Curveball and support Jays Care.

Anyway, I arrived at the gala before my host, or others at our table, so I wandered around checking out exhibits and items up for auction. I also wanted to buy a raffle ticket because a brand-new Honda sports car was the grand prize. After 20 years of driving family vans I was in the market for something more fun to drive.

I found an affable young man selling raffle tickets and asked how much? “They’re $100 each or three for $250,” he said. Feeling fortunate just to be there that night, I remembered my mother’s advice and told him to give me three tickets. All the money is going to a good cause, I thought.

“I’ve got the first 50 tickets (of the 1,000 total) and I’ve got a feeling one of them is a winner,” he said, as he swiped my credit card. “Good luck.”

He handed me the tickets and I looked at my numbers: 0002, 0003 and 0004. Later, at the dinner table while Blue Jays pitcher Joe Biagini was drawing tickets for preliminary prizes like a trip to Chicago and a women’s necklace, I showed others my tickets.

I was teased about the numbers being bad and there being no chance a winning ticket would have three zeros in it. I shrugged, thinking they’re probably correct. Biagini then pulled the grand prize ticket and handed it to MC Evanka Osmak from Sportsnet Central.

She read the number slowly and started with a zero, followed by another zero and then, sounding a bit perplexed, she read a third zero, then she paused and said: “Two.”

Our entire table shouted and we leaped to our feet. Jays announcers Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez were seated nearby and one of them said, “I guess we know who the winner is.” As one of my tablemates said later, “I thought we were going to blow the roof off the Rogers Centre.”

It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment and feeling. I dashed to the stage where I was congratulated by Osmak, Biagini and Honda Canada Foundation Chairman Dave Jamieson. “I hope you took an Uber to the ballpark tonight because you can’t drive two cars home at once,” Biagini said.

Later, a dozen or more strangers came up to me to either shake my hand or touch my shoulder, saying things like, “I just want some of your luck to rub off on me.”

The next day, again remembering my mom’s advice, I donated more money online to Jays Care Foundation and, through the Blue Jays, I tracked down Matt Miller, the young man who sold me the ticket. A few days later at a Jays game, we met and I thanked him with a tip, which he initially declined but I told him he had to take it lest good fortune not smile on me again.

I can’t help thinking about the unfortunate person who bought ticket number 0001. For another $150 to get two more tickets, he or she would have won the car. But I’m sure thankful that he or she didn’t, and I’m thankful for my mother’s long-ago advice that got me to dig deeper into my pocket.

(Brehl is a writer in Port Credit, Ont., and can be reached at bob@abc2.ca, or @bbrehl on Twitter.)

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