'Hopefully, it'll help': Nurses give Mega Millions winnings to co-workers going through family hardships

Nurses at Mercy Children’s Hospital in St. Louis pooled their Mega Millions winnings and gave it to two deserving co-workers. (Photo: KMOV)
Nurses at Mercy Children’s Hospital in St. Louis pooled their Mega Millions winnings and gave it to two deserving co-workers. (Photo: KMOV)

Working in a hospital, your work-life balance is prone to get pushed aside. It’s an environment where you are faced with so much joy, and so much sadness, that your co-workers quickly become like members of your family. While nurses can explain their hardships and victories to loved ones, it’s their fellow nurses who best comprehend what they’re experiencing.

Such a bond is evident at Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot in history, worth nearly $1.6 billion, has not yet been claimed, but five tickets were sold in Missouri that were worth $10,000 each. A group of 126 Mercy nurses collectively bought one of those tickets, according to St. Louis news station KMOV.

After taxes, $7,200 was theirs to split. Between that many people, however, each winner was to receive $56. So instead of taking the $56 apiece, they decided to help out their fellow colleagues.

NICU nurse Stephanie Brinkman told KMOV, “The majority said, ‘let’s give it to our co-workers, our family, the ones that are in biggest need,’ so that’s what we decided to do.”

The group pooled their money together and divided it between two recipients, nurse Gretchen Post and neonatologist Casey Orellana.

“I know it’s not the $1.6 billion dollars, but here is what we have to offer you,” Brinkman told the women. “Hopefully, it’ll help.”

Both of the recipients are going through struggles in their home lives. Orellana’s husband, Phil, was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer earlier this year. He hasn’t been able to work since July. “I have been getting various other treatments for wound care and at the same time, I had also found out the cancer had spread to my lungs,” he told the outlet.

Orellana has to help her husband, as well as take care of the couple’s two children, and she was forced to cut her hours in half. She said the gesture “just touches your heart.”

Post’s family tragedy happened just a month ago. “My son on October 23, died by suicide,” she said. Jack was only 17 years old, and the youngest of three children.

“Jack always had a smile on his face. He did not lead anyone on that this would happen,” Post said.

Jack passed away the night of the Mega Millions drawing, and now the money Post received from her co-workers will go to his funeral. “I’m very grateful,” Post said.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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