Juliana Tilghman is this year's lucky trip winner—and she didn't even know she was entered into the drawing. Juliana's mother, Jeannie, filled out the Thank You Tickets on behalf of her daughter. Juliana was helping to raise money for her long-time friend, Matthew Isaiah Theodore Griffin, who goes by Isaiah and will be competing in both track and field and football in the 2010 Down Under Sports Tournaments.
Isaiah and his mother, Katie Koopman, stayed at the Tilghman’s home while they were in town to attend a Down Under Sports Information Meeting and for Isaiah to compete in the Northern California Division II playoffs. While grabbing dinner at a local restaurant, the two families were discussing the upcoming meeting when Isaiah jokingly asked Juliana to join him on the trip. Everyone laughed about it and talked about how amazing it would be for these two childhood friends to travel to Australia together. Little did they know there would be an opportunity for Juliana to join Isaiah on this trip of a lifetime.
Juliana’s family helped to support Isaiah in his fundraising efforts. Later, when Isaiah mailed them a thank you note with the Thank You Tickets inside, Jeannie intercepted them before Juliana would know what was going on. Jeannie thought to herself, that if it was meant to be, it’ll happen. She mailed the tickets in to Down Under Sports with Juliana’s name on them. Jeannie figured there was nothing to lose as it would either be an incredible surprise or Juliana would never even know. This idea almost backfired as Jeannie put her rarely used cell phone number on the tickets. All she was thinking at the time was that she didn’t want Juliana to know and that she probably won’t win anyway. Jeannie didn’t even think to have her phone charged for the week of the drawing. On June 1st, Juliana’s ticket was drawn and Brian Pella, Vice President of Down Under Sports, tried to call Jeannie’s cell phone with no luck. He tried several times that day to get through to someone and kept getting put through to voicemail. Brian continued to call all throughout the next day and still could not get through to anyone. Finally, he tracked the Thank You Ticket back to Isaiah and contacted his mother to see if they could reach Juliana because she had just won a trip for two to Australia and Hawaii. Isaiah’s mother, Katie, called Juliana straight away and let her know the good news. Now all Juliana had to do was decide who she would take.
When Jeannie entered her daughter into the contest, she envisioned that Juliana would go with her Dad. Unfortunately, he was unable to get the time off from his work on such short notice and they have asked Isaiah’s mother to take his place. Katie is a single mother of two and has worked hard to give Isaiah every opportunity available. She is his No. 1 fan and Jeannie is thrilled to be able to provide such a well deserved gift to her friend. Now Juliana and Katie will once again be in the stands cheering for Isaiah, only this time they’ll be half way around the world!
"The win was a complete and utterly thrilling surprise! Thank you, thank you, for letting Juliana and Katie share in this special trip of a lifetime."
~Jeannie Tilghman (trip winner’s mother)