LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When Elizabeth Allder came to the College of Southern Nevada for a planned event, she had no idea Gov. Steve Sisolak would announce her as the day’s grand prize winner.
She blushed and was stunned to silence as she accepted her $250,000 check. She climbed down from the stage set up in the Tyrone Thompson Student Union, called her husband telling him he needed to come to the college, and then stood in front of a line of reporters when she accepted this was happening and it was real.
“I can’t believe it,” Allder said. “I thought I was going to win a little bit of money, maybe a thousand dollars, but I never expected this.”
Allder is a kindergarten teacher in North Las Vegas. She was planning on spending what little money she thought she’d win on her students and her classroom, but now she says her and her retired husband’s lives will change.
“We live paycheck to paycheck,” Allder said. “I have student loans that I have to pay off and it’ll just be nice to know that I can do that.”
20 lucky Nevadans, including Allder, took home cash and prizes as the first group of winners in the Vax Nevada Days raffle, an incentive campaign launched by Gov. Steve Sisolak and Immunize Nevada. Over an eight-week period, they’re shelling out millions of dollars, doing whatever it takes to get every single Nevadan vaccinated.
“We’re making it more convenient for everyone to get the vaccine by bringing it into neighborhoods with the popup sites,” said Sisolak. “And we just got money from FEMA and I really appreciate the federal government for giving us those funds.”
Kiana Butler, 15, asked the governor to pose with her and her giant check to post on Snapchat. Butler won $50,000 in prize money that will go towards tuition, as part of the rules for any Nevadan 12 to 17 years old. Butler says the money will help a lot. She wants to go the Louisiana State University to run track and field and to study at their school of medicine.
“I would be the second kid in my family to be graduating from college and that’s a big deal,” Butler said.
Just hours before Butler’s name was announced, she had come from Walgreens after getting her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. When she came on stage to collect her check, she proudly flexed her left arm that bore the bandaid after getting the shot.
Butler will be a sophomore in high school this coming school year. Returning to campus safely is why she wanted to get the shot. She said as soon as her age group was allowed to get vaccinated, she didn’t hesitate.
“Hopefully this will make kids my age want to get the vaccine.”
Butler’s hope is shared by state leaders. As of Thursday, the Nevada Health Department reports the Silver State has an 8.2% test-positivity rate. More than 337,000 cases were confirmed.
The governor says they’re working hard to get those numbers down, even for those who don’t believe so. He referred to a heckler with a megaphone who interrupted the event but was escorted out of the student union by security.
The governor told the crowd that the vaccine saves lives, and this crowd has gathered to celebrate Nevada’s commitment to lower cases, hospitalizations and deaths.