Deana Stambaugh of Ironton, Ohio has two really good reasons to believe in miracles.
In August, Stambaugh's daughter, Amy Palmer, gave birth 10 weeks prematurely to a little girl named Kendall Hope. Although she still faces additional, expensive medical procedures, the tiny infant miraculously returned from the hospital earlier than doctors had predicted after being delivered by Caesarean section.
The other miracle: Stambaugh just won $20,000 on Christmas Day playing the Holiday Surprise Doubler instant game from the Ohio Lottery.
"It's been really hard this year, but this money is going to be used for a good purpose," Stambaugh said. "We've had two miracles this year. When the baby was born, they said she wouldn't come back home for months. But she got to come home much earlier than they thought she would` so (with the lottery win), it's all truly been a miracle."
The family's latest miracle came Dec. 25. Palmer, of Ironton, was headed downtown that evening when Stambaugh handed her $4 and told her to pick up a couple of lottery tickets while she was at it.
When Palmer returned, the two women scratched off the instant tickets purchased at Park Avenue Drive-Thru. The ticket in Stambaugh's hand wasn't a winner. At first glance, Palmer's appeared to be only marginally better.
"Amy (Palmer) said, 'I won $2, Mom.' Then she scratched off the other side and said, 'No, I won $20.'" Stambaugh said. "But then I looked at it and I started screaming 'Oh my God, Oh my God, I think we just won $20,000.' By that time, my heart was about to come out of my chest."
Even after the initial excitement, Palmer still wasn't convinced.
"I was amazed," Palmer said. "I thought someone was playing a trick on me."
It was no trick, but it did seem to be a matter of perfect timing for Palmer who said she occasionally plays the lottery but has never won anything.
"I just think it was meant to be," she said. "`It could have happened to anyone. It could have happened to the person in front of me (in line) or behind me."
Instead, it happened to this family who could definitely use a helping hand this holiday season.
Proud grandma Stambaugh said she plans to use the lump sum of $14,300 (the amount left after 28.5 percent goes to federal and state taxes) to buy a better vehicle for daughter Amy as she takes Kendall Hope for regular hospital visits.
Although they haven't received the payout, Palmer said she has already been looking at used SUVs. She said she needs something roomy and comfortable for future trips to Cincinnati and Cleveland for her daughter's medical treatment.
The money left over will go to offset the enormous medical bills incurred over the last few months.
"We already have a $1 million baby," Stambaugh said.
Little Kendall Hope spent 68 days in Cincinnati Children's Hospital. She has undergone two surgeries and two major procedures thus far and possibly has two more surgeries on the horizon.
Palmer, also mother to son, 8-year-old Tristen, works at Liebert Corporation as a production scheduler. While Palmer is at work, Stambaugh keeps Kendall Hope and attends to her needs with the help of other relatives.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," Stambaugh said. "She's such a good baby, especially considering what she's been through."
While the extra money may not erase Kendall Hope's past discomfort, it will help make the healing process a little easier.
The Holiday Surprise Doubler went on sale November 5. The game costs $2 to play and more prizes are still available.