McHenry VFW Post’s Queen of Hearts raffle tops $5.5 million

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MCHENRY, Ill. — What started as a simple fundraiser ballooned into a raffle worth more than $5.5 million. Meet the veterans behind the epic Queen of Hearts raffle at the McHenry VFW Post #4600 in our latest Faces of Chicago - and subscribe on Facebook Watch to see more stories like this in the future.

Dwane Lungren, Commander, McHenry VFW Post #4600

One of the things that we stress here is veterans helping veterans, and that's very important, so it's easier for a veteran open up to another veteran.

We actually a couple of years ago, in April 2016 decided, you know what, the amount of people coming in here was low. We're have problems trying to get people and we were like, Code Red. So we came up with the idea of well, let's do the Queen of Hearts.

It's just simply 54 cards on a board. You turn in a raffle ticket and you pick a card; pick a number, not the queen, rolls over, so that current week's jackpot will go into to the next week.

Dwane Lungren, Commaner of the McHenry VFW Post, gets ready to pull a card from the Queen of Hearts board

We were so happy to get $5,000 in sales one week, now we do that in a couple of hours. Cuz it kept rolling over, kept rolling over, kept rolling over, and then once we reach that magic one million mark, it's brought them in in droves, and it's totally turned this place around.

We have people coming from all over, we have people coming from Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Virginia, there is rumors we have tour buses coming in with people and they're fine with it. They know it's going to a great cause. It's not like it's going to Walmart or something like that, it's going to something that we can actually use it for something good.

The money will all go right towards either our facility here or goes into programs to help other veterans.

Ashley Kamin, Veteran and Member, McHenry VFW Post #4600

My grandfather, he was in the Korean War and I thought it would be pretty fantastic to be at the VFW with him and have a beer with him, and have a couple of generations there.

It's great  to see how many little things have happened, and how many larger things can happen, when 20 percent does go back to the post.

Dwane Lungren, Commander, McHenry VFW Post #4600

Thing is, I don't even know where the card is. Nobody does. We're on edge too, going "is it it? Is it it?" And then were kinda let down too, just like the public.

The whole cycle starts all over again. I just say, you know, let it ride; I'm to the point now where, let it ride.

Note: This interview was edited for content

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