By: Evan Peterson
We often wonder, “What would I do if I won the lottery?” Most people would respond with a lengthy shopping list of their most desired trinkets, gadgets, and gizmos. It’s an intoxicating daydream that Joe Travis says he’ll never obtain because -- he’s not that lucky.
“I always thought you made your luck. You work hard and you make things happen.”
But while Joe may not be lucky… his wife is.
“They told me the odds were one in 400,000,” said Jeanne Travis, who had her life unsuspectingly changed last April all because she donated blood.
“I’ve been giving blood for years, whenever I can,” she said with a chuckle, thinking her luck had peaked after receiving a t-shirt for the first time at her most recent donation. But, fast forward three months and a new gift is sitting on the edge of her driveway. “I had no idea -- I didn’t know the Red Cross gave away such large gifts!”
A 29ft long travel trailer camper, specifically a 2022 Keystone Hideout, that comfortably sleeps eight people, now sits at the edge of her driveway.
“I thought it was a prank call, a scam. It went straight to voicemail”, recalls Jeanne about the moment she was notified of being randomly selected as the winner. “I listened to the message, it sounded legitimate. A man told me he was with the Red Cross and that I had won this travel trailer and I had 72 hours to claim my prize or he was going to go to the next person on the list.”
Joe initially agreed with his wife, that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is. “When she told me what it was, I said, ‘it has got to be a scam!” So, Joe called the number back and the man who had left that message picked up. “We talked about it – I said to her, this might be real!”
By mid-July, all doubts were cast aside when the camper pulled up to their home in Buford, Georgia.
“It’s weird to see it at the end of our driveway right now. Like, it’s here, it’s actually here”, said Jeanne looking at her husband.
The delivery man Kenneth Mullins, who drove the camper from Arkansas, said handing over the keys to the Travis’s made him feel like he had also won something.
“They called and asked if I’d be willing to go to Georgia for the American Red Cross and I said sure!” said Mullins. He continued, “I’ve given gallons of blood, enjoyed giving, but for this deal here – it was more exciting.”
As Mullins shows the Travis’s around the outside of their new home away from home, smiles and happiness emanate from them. And especially for Joe, who says – the timing of all this feels unreal.
“We just bought a piece of land in north Georgia and we were looking for something to stay in. So, I was looking around for trailers and everything I was looking at was either overpriced or too old. And then we got this call,” laughs Joe. “I was actively looking for something like this when we got the call!”
Walking into the camper, Joe thumbs over the kitchen appliances while Jeanne sits down at the table. In the back of the trailer sits a bunk bed for the kids as well as a toilet and shower. On the other end sits the master bedroom and a couple of closets.
As their tour finishes, Jeanne and Joe Travis say – they didn’t play the lottery, but still managed to hit the jackpot.
“I’ve been donating for 15 to 20 years and never in my wildest dream did I ever know that these big giveaways were ever happening. I was just going because it was the right thing to do,” said Jeanne. “It is very serendipitous.”
As for Joe, he’ll tell you that he’s still not lucky, but he’s amazed at what a simple act of charity, like donating blood, will do to change it.
The American Red Cross wants to thank Jeanne and all the donors who helped give hospital patients the strength to stay on their road to recovery this spring! We also extend our gratitude to our partner Suburban Propane and their SuburbanCares initiative who helped make this donation possible.
How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, schedule online, call 1-800-RED CROSS or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org, cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.