One late Monday afternoon, as I sat at my desk here in PCH headquarters, I received a call from Danielle Lam. “Do you want to come on Prize Patrol with me?” she asked. I sputtered out a “yes” and Danielle went on to tell me that we would be traveling to Newark, NJ to surprise a Prize Days winner with $15,000.00. The next day, she and Todd took me to the secret Prize Patrol vault to get me what I needed for the trip – a Prize Patrol windbreaker (we knew rain was in the forecast so a windbreaker seemed like a practical choice over a blazer!).
So on Wednesday, December 7th, Danielle, Matt K. from Creative, and I set out! Despite rain and a little bit of traffic, we made it to Newark by 11:30 AM. Of course, we stopped at a local florist first. The florist couldn’t get over what a wonderful gift $15,000.00 would be, especially during the holidays. But she was also very concerned – what if the winner isn’t home? Danielle, like the seasoned Prize Patrol pro that she is, assured the florist that this is common and the Prize Patrol is skilled in locating the winner, and even if the winner is impossible to find, we will wait until she arrives home!
We left the florist’s shop and made our way to the winner’s home, only a few blocks away. All three of us had a strange hunch that the winner was home. As we pulled up, I noticed that a light was on. Perhaps we were correct! I held my breath as we positioned ourselves on the front steps. Clutching the roses and balloons, I couldn’t believe that I was doing this – surprising someone as I’ve seen done so many times before!
Then, everything happened so fast. Ding-dong, Danielle pressed the doorbell. Voices. Footsteps. The door opens and a teenage boy is standing in front of us. “Hi, is Zakiya home?” Danielle asks. “Yes, that’s my mom,” says Shawn, Zakiya’s son. After a little coaxing, Zakiya Green, our winner, comes to greet us. She is overwhelmed, shy, and can hardly speak as we present her with a Big Check for $15,000.00.
There were three parts of Zakiya’s winning moment that really stood out to me: First, her delayed reaction. Unlike some previous winners, Zakiya didn’t fall to the ground upon seeing us. Instead it took her a bit. Zakiya fell to the ground after a few minutes of chatting! Second, when we handed over the Big Check, Zakiya’s son Shawn grabbed it and ran inside, saying he was going to hang it on his wall! Third, I noticed that throughout the entire experience, Zakiya was clutching a half peeled clementine. She must have been planning to eat it when we showed up at the door but during the excitement, she completely forgot to put it down.
Overall, it was a terrific experience! There’s nothing like the feeling of brightening someone’s day. I wish the best to Zakiya and her family. And, I hope to experience many more Prize Patrol deliveries – maybe I’ll be on YOUR doorstep in the near future!