Stephanie Brown
The Navigator

Photo by Stephanie Brown

“I’m just thrilled,” said Jody Critchlow, the winner of the Live Free For a Year contest sponsored by Woodgrove Centre.

The contest took place over the course of a month, between September 12 and October 14. Three finalists were drawn each week, and out of those 12, a grand prize winner walked away on October 19 with $40k worth of prizes. These prizes included $15k in Woodgrove Centre Gift Certificates, $10k cash, a one year lease on a 2014 Toyota Corolla, $5200 in grocery gift certificates, $4800 in gas gift cards and $1000 to the winning contestants charity of choice.

Along with Critchlow, there were 11 other finalists. Week one’s winners were Deb Colk, Michelle Leigh, and Jenn Duncan. Week two finalists were Katrina Hepperle, Pamela Holland, and Darwin Thiessen. The winners from week three were Chantelle Lestage, Manjit Joher, and Hayley Warner. Squeezing in during the last week to be eligible for the grand prize was Jody Critchlow herself as well as Shannon Yaredic and Alannah Tatoosh.    All contestants were awarded an additional $100 gift certificate to Woodgrove.

To enter the contest, residents of Central Vancouver Island lined up at Woodgrove Centre to fill out their information. There was a limit of one entry per day per customer, and no purchase was necessary to enter. The entry form was submitted electronically, and contestants selected one of the nine charities and then filled out their information. Critchlow told Woodgrove Marketing Director Nola Dunn that herself and her husband would drive down from Qualicum Beach every Friday night to enter.

The awards process took some time, with a great build up to the announcement of the winner. The contestants were drawn out of a barrel and had to pick a number in a covered folder. Then the numbers were used to give an order to the finalists drawing a key out of a basket. Out of the 12 keys, one would start the 2014 Toyota Corolla. Critchlow was number four, and just when the crowd fell silent, the pistons in the car sparked to life and were quickly drowned out by the roar of the crowd and Larry Quiring, the M.C. “Thank you so much, Woodgrove. This is awesome, cheers!” Chritchlow said while cameras flashed all around and her husband ran forward to congratulate her. Quiring asked Critchlow if she had any idea when she arrived today that she would be walking away the winner. “No, no idea,” Critchlow said.

Participating charities were awarded a $1000 donation from Woodgrove at the kickoff to the competition. The charities included Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island, Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island, Cops for Cancer/Tour de Rock, Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island, Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon, The Salvation Army, United Way of Central Vancouver Island, Vancouver Island University Foundation, and Variety—the children’s charity.

Out of these charities, the top three, as voted by the entry forms, were awarded an additional $1000 at the end of the contest. The three top charities were Heart and Stroke, the Salvation Army, and Variety. Haven House, Critchlow’s charity of choice, was also awarded $1000, and the remaining six charities involved were given an additional $250 donation from Woodgrove.

Nola Dunn, the Marketing Director at Woodgrove, said the contest pulled in “a record breaking number of turn outs,” and because of this they hope to run the contest next year, but “bigger and better.”