Lerynne West recently won $343.9 million in a recent Powerball drawing. It’s quite the windfall for this single mom from Redfield, Iowa, so her announcement that she’ll be donating $500,000 of her winnings to The Travis Mills Foundation, which assists wounded veterans, really warms our hearts. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran with three brothers who also served in the military, giving back to those who serve our country is a cause that’s near to her heart.
“It’s very important to me that we never forget the sacrifices soldiers and their family members make for our country,” West told host Ellen DeGeneres during an appearance on her show on Nov. 14.
Watch West talk about the exciting experience of winning the jackpot and how she plans to use the money in the clip below.
West was in disbelief when she realized she had won the jackpot. She says she’s never been very lucky before but, as DeGeneres pointed out, she has now experienced a stroke of luck that will last a lifetime.
In addition to donating to The Travis Mills Foundation, West started her own charity as well, The Callum Foundation. Named after her grandchild who survived just one day after his birth, the mission of the organization is to “help individuals and strengthen communities by providing funding for key initiatives that will make a measured impact on the lives of those in need.” The foundation will give grants in the core areas of poverty and hunger, education, animal welfare and veteran affairs, such as the one given to The Travis Mills Foundation.
West became visibly emotional when she explained that the foundation was created in honor of her grandson who was born prematurely at 24 weeks and did not get the opportunity to experience a full life.
In an effort to spread West’s luck, DeGeneres announced that everyone in the audience that day would get a lottery ticket for the $100 million jackpot being drawn that night.