Haliburton resident Judy Neimann was the winner of this year’s Rotary Club of Haliburton car draw. Neimann was given the choice of a new Camaro or $30,000 cash. She chose to take the cash prize. From left, Rotary president Ted Brandon, granddaughter Freyja Neimann-Rowe, Judy Neimann, and Rotarian Maureen O’Hara. / Photo by Bob Bullock

Small-town connections deliver news of Rotary car draw win

By Jenn Watt

On the night of the Rotary Club of Haliburton’s car draw, Judy Neimann was out of town, forgetting entirely that she could be the lucky winner of a new Camaro or $30,000 cash. In fact, winning the draw was so far from her mind that she didn’t worry that she had put an out-of-service phone number on her ballot. 

“I had put the phone number on [the ballot] of my little house in the village and then I had shut that phone off and they couldn’t reach me,” Neimann laughs.

So when her winning ballot was pulled from the drum on Wednesday, Aug. 5 by Rotarians Ted Brandon and Maureen O’Hara, it took some small-town resourcefulness to get the news to the Neimann.

“Luckily, Lorry Brandon [a volunteer with the Rotary Club] knows my daughter and so she called my daughter and my daughter called me and then I called Ted,” she said. 

Hearing about her big win through family members was likely just as exciting as getting the call directly from Rotarians. With the car draw still not on her mind, she didn’t know what news her daughter Erin Neimann was calling about that night. 

“Erin called me and she said, ‘are you sitting down?’ and I said ‘yes,’ and she said, ‘we have something exciting to tell you,’ and you know I had thought about the draw … that morning and then never thought about it again,” she said. “… I still didn’t think of it and then the three of them – she and my husband and my granddaughter – all together said ‘you won the car!’ and I was in total shock, in fact I think I started to cry.”

Once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, she said she’d like to use the money to go on a cruise.
Neimann said she has been buying Rotary car draw tickets for about 30 years and never expected to win. Buying tickets was about supporting the work of the Rotary Club, she said. 

“Thank you to the Rotary Club,” she said. “Not just for the prize, but for all they do in the community. That’s why I bought the ticket in the first place.”