After long wait, victory is sweet for Sunrise SurvivorFor longtime Duluth-resident Ted Krakovec, 85, winning something big was an item on his bucket list.
For longtime Duluth-resident Ted Krakovec, 85, winning something big was an item on his bucket list.
Thanks to a lucky draw in a raffle contest, Krakovec crossed that item off the list Wednesday when he was handed the keys to a brand new ATV.
“Wow, I can’t believe it!” Krakovec said while looking at his new red Polaris Sportsman 400. “I can’t believe it!”
Krakovec’s friends presented the $7,000 ATV to him Wednesday morning at the Sunrise Funeral Home in Hermantown.
Krakovec is a member of the Sunrise Survivors, a group of local widowers. They meet for coffee and conversation every other week at the funeral home.
It was because of the group that Krakovec ended up purchasing the winning ticket. Tom Porter, president of the adjacent cemetery, visits with the men during their get-togethers and sold the winning ticket to Krakovec.
The raffle was to benefit a 24-year-old Duluth man who suddenly lost the use of both his legs. Porter’s son helped organize the benefit, so Porter decided to help raise some money by selling raffle tickets for the ATV, which was donated by Beaver Bay Sports.
When he mentioned it to the group one day, Krakovec said he could spare $20 to benefit the young man.
“I just wanted to do something good for the kid,” he said. “I never gave any thought to it after that. I put it out of my mind.”
Much to Porter’s surprise, he got a phone call informing him that one of the tickets he sold won. Rather than just informing Krakovec about his prize, Porter had the ATV brought to the funeral home and had it parked outside before the Sunrise Survivors’ meeting.
“I couldn’t believe I sold the winning ticket,” Porter said. “I’m so happy for him.”
When Krakovec arrived at the meeting with his son Brian, Porter delivered the good news.
“Take a good look,” he said. “This is yours.”
Krakovec was left momentarily speechless as he took some time to look over his new toy. But it didn’t take long for him to toss aside his walker and climb onto the ATV.
“Now I’m going to have to go get riding boots and a helmet,” he joked as Paul Hegstrom, a funeral director at Sunrise, fired up the engine and showed Krakovec how the ATV works.
Krakovec’s friends were just as surprised as he was.
“I didn’t know anything about it until today,” said Frank Franta. “I knew he bought the ticket, but when I drove in today and saw it, I was shocked.”
Franta, a longtime friend of Krakovec, was one of the founders of the Sunrise Survivors group, and encouraged Krakovec to come to the meetings after the death of his wife, Evelyn, in 2009.
About 45 widowed men are in the group and make it to meetings at least occasionally. Together they manage their grief by discussing politics, religion, sports or anything on their minds.
“Frank is the one who told me about this and invited me here,” Krakovec said. “If he hadn’t invited me, I never would have won.”
Franta said he was happy to play a small role in the story.
“I think it’s half mine,” he joked with Krakovec. “I’ll be part-owner.”
Krakovec wasn’t yet sure what he would do with the ATV. He was still too busy taking in the moment.
“I can’t believe I finally won something,” he said. “I just wish it would’ve happened about 50 years ago.”