Winning the lottery is one of the ultimate dreams for people across the world, as it offers them the chance to live their lives with no financial worries. While some might focus on using that wealth for their own personal pleasure, others could, however, be looking to give back to their communities. Mark and Cindy Hill of Dearborn, Missouri, certainly fit the latter category, as they stunned locals following their massive lottery win.
Like many winners, the Hills lived a relatively quiet life before purchasing the proverbial golden ticket in November 2012. Mark was a factory worker, while Cindy was unemployed after losing her office manager job in 2010. The pair also have three adult sons and an adopted six-year-old daughter from China.
With a record $587.5 million Powerball jackpot on offer, Cindy bought five tickets at a local Dearborn gas station for $10. Instead of choosing the numbers herself, she allowed the computer to pick them for her and then left the tickets in her car overnight. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Missouri native didn’t have high hopes for a money-spinning victory.
Cindy told ABC News, “I was just telling my daughter the night before, ‘Honey, that probably never happens.’” However, she was proved wrong the next day as she took her six-year-old to school. Upon learning that Missouri had sold a winning ticket, she drove to a convenience store to check out the lucky numbers.
After looking through her tickets and finding the winner, Cindy wanted Mark and his mother to confirm the result. “I called my husband and told him, ‘I think I am having a heart attack,’” she recalled. “‘I think we just won the lottery!’”
The Hills had just won half of the record jackpot – around $293 million. At the time, Mark had been working at a hot dog and deli packaging factory. But now he could put his feet up and relax. For that reason, his son Jason was delighted.
“I’m very happy for him,” Jason told ABC News. “He’s worked hard in his life; well, not any more. Well, I hope we all stay very grounded, stay humble and don’t forget who we are.”
For Cindy, the win presented an opportunity to travel the world with her family, knowing work would no longer get in the way. “It’s really going to be nice to spend time – not have to work – and be able to take trips with our family,” she said. “We want to go back to China, Ireland of course – we’re Irish – and wherever the win takes us.”
Three months later, though, the win seemingly led them back home to Missouri. In fact, the couple continued to live in Dearborn, while also donating money to civic projects in Camden Point, Missouri: Mark’s hometown. Their generosity certainly didn’t go unnoticed among the locals.
“They are very conservative people,” Walt Stubbs, a former high school friend of the Hills and chief of the area’s fire department, told the HuffPost. “They are doing some really nice things for the community, and they’ve taken care of their family.” However, their ambitious plans for the community didn’t stop there.
The Hills went on to pay for a new fire station, which could also house ambulances, in Camden Point. The new facility would offer a direct connection to the main roads, as the old station didn’t have the best access to the local highways. In addition to that, the building would also be energy efficient and offer living quarters.
“It’s a situation where if we had to do it ourselves, it would take 25 years,” Stubbs added. For Mark, though, this was a very important cause close to his heart. After all, his father had been saved twice by volunteer firefighters in the past.
Mark asked KMBC, “How many towns of 500 people have an ambulance service that’s manned 24-7? Very few. I’m proud to be part of that.” And as well as the new fire station, the Hills paid for a new ball field and donated more than $50,000 to the community.
That money was used to buy land for a new sewage treatment plant, which in turn would allow the residents to eventually give up their individual septic tanks. Unsurprisingly, Camden Point’s mayor, Kevin Boydston, expressed delight with their generosity.
Boydston told HuffPost, “I’ve said all along that these lottery winnings could not have gone to a better couple. They are giving back to the community, just like they said they would.” The Hills’ old high school benefited from their lottery win as well, further showing their dedication to lift the area.
In fact, the pair both graduated from Dearborn’s North Platte High School and that’s what prompted them to donate to the school’s scholarship fund. And while the locals were no doubt appreciative of their actions, Mark’s mother, Shirley Hill, was beaming with pride at the time.
Shirley told HuffPost, “I’m real proud of them. They have stayed grounded. That’s their nature.” The pair’s generosity did not go unnoticed by the town, either. On July 16, 2016, the community gave something back to the family.
Yes, the Camden Point Fire Department officially dedicated its new facility to Mark and Cindy, allowing the locals the chance to celebrate their actions. “He’s very private, and he doesn’t like to make a lot of splash about things,” Camden Point Fire Protection District board president Steve Folck said of the former to KCTV.
Folck continued, “But he’s done things for the city of Camden Point, for North Platte High School, and it’s ongoing.” He added, “I mean his generosity just knows no bounds. It’s just an amazing family.”