MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A WVU Medicine nurse’s life was changed forever Wednesday when she received a visit at work from Gov. Jim Justice.
Denise Morrison and dozens of her coworkers at WVU Medicine’s J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown were called in for what they believed to be a simple meeting with the Governor. But Gov. Justice surprised the crowd, entering the room alongside Babydog and announcing that Morrison was the lucky person whose name had been drawn as the latest million-dollar prize winner in the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” Vaccination Sweepstakes.
“I did not know,” Morrison said. “I woke up this morning thinking I was going to do my regular errands on my day off today. I was going to go out to eat lunch with my fiancé.”
The governor then presented a ceremonial check for $1 million to Morrison, a Fairmont resident, who works as a charge nurse in Ruby Memorial Hospital’s Surgical Services department.
Morrison’s eyes filled with tears as her name was called and so did the eyes of many of her coworkers.
These coworkers, Morrison said, are like family to her.
“We always say that my OR is always my second family,” she said. “I always treat them like that, everybody. We’re always there for each other. If we have any kind of burdens or hardships in our lives, everybody pulls together and it truly is my second family here. I’ve been here since 2006 and I can’t really see myself anywhere else.”
As for Morrison’s biological family, they will benefit from her winnings because it’s always been a goal to help them.
“I’ve always told myself if I ever had anything, or I would win money that I would like to help myself and my family out financially with their health; my mom, things like that just help pay their bills off.”
By her side on Wednesday afternoon, was Morrison’s fiance Bradley Fletcher. Whereas she didn’t know she would win, Fletcher did.
He had to keep it a secret for about 24 hours before the check presentation. He said it wasn’t hard to keep it a secret from his fiancee.
“Nobody deserves it better,” Fletcher said. “That’s how I could keep it from her.”
Morrison said now that she has won, she doesn’t plan on changing much about her life. She, even, plans on going back to work. The only thing that will change for her and her fiance is that they will just help more because they can.
“We’re going to carry on and make the best of our lives like we do every other day; help out where we can, when we can, with who we can, and just be there for each other and our families,” Morrison said.
In five drawings, Morrison is the third north-central West Virginia resident to win a million-dollar prize, along with week two winner Sharon Turner, of Morgantown and week four winner Timothy Jackson, a WVU Robotics Center employee.
Also on Wednesday, additional winners were announced for prizes including two full four-year scholarships to any public institution in the state, five lifetime hunting licenses, five lifetime fishing licenses, five custom hunting rifles, five custom hunting shotguns, and 25 weekend getaways to West Virginia State Parks.