Project Graduation made Casey Ptachick’s Monday afternoon when he was presented with $1,800 in cold hard cash for a raffle ticket he’d purchased on a whim several weekends ago.
A resident of Tallahassee, Ptachick and his girlfriend had stayed on the river in Wewahitchka two weeks earlier and stopped at David Rich’s IGA for some groceries.
Ptachick bought a raffle ticket to support Project Graduation, not giving much thought to the anticipated prize of $500 that came along with it.
In the weeks following Ptachick’s purchase, the remaining tickets sold out during Wewahitchka’s Fourth of July celebration bringing in a total of $3,600 in funds.
As per the raffle, 50 percent would go to a grand prize winner and the other half would be donated to Project Graduation for future events.
Ptachick received a phone call on Monday morning inviting him back to the IGA under mysterious circumstances.
When he arrived, he was presented with the prize money by Project Graduation President, Sharon Barrier and Treasurer Melissa Rushing.
A handful of recent Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School graduates were also on hand to show their gratitude for the funds with a round of applause.
“It feels really good,” said Ptachick on his raffle win. “My girlfriend and I were just having a weekend to ourselves and just happened to stop in.
“This is going to help pay some bills.”
Ptachick said he recently won a raffle in Tallahassee, but forfeited his prize when he didn’t answer a call from an unknown telephone number. He said he learned from that mistake.
For more than 15 years, Project Graduation in Wewahitchka has guaranteed graduates a safe, fun location to enjoy their commencement after-party. The class of 2014 enjoyed an evening of games and prizes at the Taunton Family Children’s Home where they received prizes that included X-Boxes and television sets.
“Project graduation is important,” said Barrier. “It’s a safe place for kids to go.
“It keeps them from drinking and driving, and allows them to have a responsible party.”
Barrier said that Project Graduation would host a variety of events, including a festival in the fall and haunted trails in October, to help pay for the class of 2015’s graduation party.
“This is so nice,” said Ptachick. “I’m going to come back and spend some more time here.”