Tom and Jan Crist were married for 33 years before she died of cancer at the age of 57. Now Tom, who won the lottery, is giving away all his winnings to charities, with a focus on cancer organizations. Courtesy the Crist family
The Tom Baker Cancer Centre is the first recipient of winnings from the Calgary lottery player who won $40 million and pledged to give it all away.
Tom Crist said Monday he was planning to donate his winnings in honour of his wife, Jan, who died of cancer. The couple were married for 33 years when Jan passed away in February 2012.
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On Tuesday, Crist gave $1.2 million to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, which collects donations for Calgary's Tom Baker Cancer Centre, where Jan was treated before her death.
Alberta Cancer Foundation CEO Myka Osinchuk first found out about Crist's intentions through media reports.
"My first thought this morning was ‘that’s amazing’; my second was: ‘I wonder if he knows what he’s done.'"
Osinchuk said they were all a bit stunned by the donation and very grateful.
"Whether the money goes to the Tom Baker or the cancer centre or any other worthy cause, I mean, this is just a man who should be congratulated," she said.
"You get a good feeling from it."
A shy winner
Crist said he doesn't want any attention. He found out in May that he had won the lottery but kept it a secret from even friends and family.
The former CEO of EECOL Electric, an electrical wholesale company with its head office in Calgary, retired in September.
On Monday, Crist said he had been hoping he could just quietly transfer the funds to a family trust account that would be used for charity. But, as a condition of a big win, the Western Canada Lottery Corporation requires that an announcement be made.
Despite his best efforts, Crist was photographed — while wearing a ball cap and sunglasses.
On Tuesday, his son Dallas Crist said his dad was a humble man.
"He’ll go out of his way to do anything for his friends, family, all his co-workers at EECOL would say the same things," he said.
"He’s our role model. It’s cheesy and cliché, but it’s true."
Largest Calgary prize
The $40-million prize is the largest ever for a Calgary winner.
Lottery corporation spokesperson Andrea Marantz said it's common for lottery winners to donate a portion of their prize, but donating the whole amount is rare.
"I think it's extraordinary. The idea of donating that large a sum of money is certainly beyond most people's ability to comprehend."
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