Donna and Ron Ritchie of Vernon get ready to head to Kamloops to cash in their million-dollar lottery ticket.

Donna and Ron Ritchie of Vernon get ready to head to Kamloops to cash in their million-dollar lottery ticket.

A million reasons to smile

Vernon residents Ron and Donna Ritchie win $1 million

Anyone who knows the Ritchies will tell you: “It couldn’t have happened to better people.”

Following a frightful year battling cancer, Ron and his wife Donna already consider themselves lucky.

So along with Ron being in remission from the nasty disease, the Vernon couple are now $1 million richer.

“I’m freaking out,” said Donna, who bought the ticket from Charlie’s Grocery Friday evening. “I haven’t slept.”

Likewise, Ron is over the moon about their winning $6 LottoMax Quick Pick ticket.

“We didn’t even think about it, I just put it in my wallet,” said Ron, who found out the good news Saturday morning when he checked the numbers at Safeway.

Donna was checking her scratch and wins, collecting a couple bucks, when the lottery attendant told them someone from Vernon had won the Maxmillion.

“Oh ya, nice,” said Donna.

“I look over at Ron and he says, ‘it’s us!’”

The Morning Star cannot re-print the words that escaped Donna’s mouth.

“She was losing it,” laughs Ron.

After checking the numbers over and over at various ticket checkers around town, the couple shared the good news with their family.

Then Monday morning 55-year-old Donna retired from her circulation job at The Morning Star so she can spend more time with, and spoil, “my babies” (together they have three children and four grandchildren).

Ron, who is 59, works at the City of Vernon, but isn’t sure yet what his plans are – aside from buying a new truck.

“We went and looked at it on Saturday,” said Donna, adding that it’s not even brand new, it’s a 2008.

The couple, who have until now lived virtually paycheque to paycheque, plan to talk with a financial advisor to ensure their winnings are well spent.

“If you’re not careful, it can go like that,” said Donna.

They have no plans to move, as they love their home and neighbourhood, and only have a few years left on their mortgage. But they are excited to be able to afford to hire a contractor for some renovations that are in the works.

“I don’t have to try and save a buck,” said Ron, who was planning to do all the work himself.

Donna and Ron have been together for 19 “wonderful,” years, aside from last year.

Almost a year ago to the day, Ron learned that he had lymphoma.

“We had a really tough year,” said Donna, as Ron went through six rounds of chemo.

But they got through it.

“She always said 2013 sucked, 2014 is going to be a new one,” said Ron. “She was right.”

Not only did they win the fight against cancer, but they beat the one in 28,633,528 odds of becoming a Maxmillionaire.