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Newsmakers: Rick and Bonnie Cerezo

Lotto winners feel daughter’s love

Published: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner file photo – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Rick Cerezo of Geneva won $4.85 million from playing the lottery. Cerezo had forgotten about the ticket for several months, having stored it in a cookie jar given to him and his wife by their late daughter, Savannah, last year.

It has been said that the chances of winning the lottery are about the same as getting hit by lightning. In that case, Geneva residents Rick and Bonnie Cerezo got some electricity when they turned in an Illinois Lotto ticket worth $4.85 million.

The Cerezos were in the process of losing their house, struggling for two years to make the payments. Their daughter, Savannah, died at age 14 of what doctors think was a stroke in the house, so they said it was important to them to keep their home as one last connection to her.

For months, the family had been storing 11 unclaimed lottery tickets in a cookie jar that Savannah had given to her mother for Mother’s Day last year. Rick Cerezo took the tickets to a gas station to check them out. There were duds and one worth $3. When he checked the eighth ticket, the words “File a claim,” appeared.

Later, they checked the numbers online and saw that it was worth a jackpot prize of $4.85 million.

“In an instant, everyone starts crying,” Rick Cerezo had said. “We knew who was behind it.”

– Brenda Schory

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