The very best part of being a member of the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol is meeting the wonderful people who win major prizes in our famous sweepstakes. Whether the prize we deliver is worth thousands or millions of dollars, it doesn’t matter: each winner is unique and a blessing to their families and friends – even before they win a Big Check.
In the case of Doris Gray, who passed away on October 29 after a three-year battle with cancer, she blessed not only family and friends but generations of students as well. This was dramatically demonstrated in February 2009 when the Prize Patrol surprised her at the Paterson, NJ school where she served as teacher, mentor and mother figure for 38 years.
On a day we will never forget the principal asked Doris into the school cafeteria – Doris had no idea why – where we Prize Patrol’ers waited with roses, balloons and a Big Check which read “$5,000 A Week for Life.” When she saw us and realized what was happening she shrieked in shock and held onto colleagues for support. The assembled student body applauded and cheered “Mrs. Gray! Mrs. Gray! Mrs. Gray!”
Among the hundreds of PCH “winning moments” I have witnessed, this has got to be one of if not the most thrilling. Watch this video captured by the Newark Star Ledger and you’ll see what I mean.
Eve, a Prize Patrol’er in 2009, recalls that Doris’s “winning moment was so moving it actually became a theme for one of our television campaigns. She was one special woman and will be remembered always.”
Allison, another Prize Patrol’er at the time, recalls “It was clear that day how much Doris was admired and loved by all in her community. She was a kind, humble and gracious winner.”
A few weeks later, Doris — accompanied by her husband Willie, daughter Kristin and a large, loving family — came to our PCH headquarters for a celebration. Her charm and radiance overwhelmed all our employees.
Of course Doris kept working. At the end of the school year she threw a party for everyone there – which was typical; she never used her winnings for herself: no new car or home or jewelry, no trips or any other material things. Instead, Doris gave to friends and family when they were in need and to organizations she was passionate about. Giving brought her greater joy than receiving.
Doris and I spoke by phone at various times over the years. She was ever grateful for her prize (which she elected to take in a lump cash payment). She spoke of her illness but remained positive and upbeat.
With such powerful recollections of Doris, all of us at PCH were saddened to hear of her passing. We extend our sincere condolences to her family. This small but mighty and inspiring woman will remain in our hearts and memories for years to come.
Prize Patrol Ambassador