Gregory Strong and Ann Marie Langford sit in Langford's new 2018 BMW 3201 in the back parking lot of the Lowndes County Courthouse Wednesday. Langford won the car in an international raffle earlier this year, after Strong sold her the winning ticket for $10. Proceeds from the raffle go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and programs supported by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, of which Strong is a member. Photo by: Chris Jenkins/Special to The Dispatch
December 6, 2018 10:58:20 AM
Last week, Ann Marie Langford, a deputy circuit court clerk, drove her Land Rover from home to her job at the Lowndes County Courthouse.
She drove her new 2018 BMW 3201 back.
In the spring, the Caledonia native bought the winning ticket -- one of 4,000 total tickets sold -- in a raffle for the car. The raffle was an international fundraiser by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
The car is worth $36,000. The ticket was $10.
"Pretty good for a $10 car," Langford said.
Langford bought the ticket from courthouse security guard Gregory Strong, who has been a member of Omega Psi Phi since he was in college at Troy University in Alabama and has been a member of the fraternity's Psi Gamma Gamma chapter since 2015. Strong said he spent several months last spring selling raffle tickets to people who work in the courthouse. He also got one each for himself and his wife. Still, he didn't expect any of them to win.
The night he got the call from New Orleans that Langford had won the drawing, he was ecstatic.
"I was laughing because usually when things like this (are) international, you think someone from California or some other state would win. But right here in Caledonia," he said. "Our chapter took the responsibility for selling the winning ticket and that was great -- great kudos for our chapter, great kudos for our fraternity."
He immediately called Langford to let her know.
"He called me and told me that I won and I didn't believe him," Langford said.
"Honestly my first thought was, 'I've got to pay taxes on this thing,'" she added laughing. "I'm still a little dumbfounded."
She said her friends, family and coworkers have all been ecstatic at her news.
"The way they react, you'd think they'd won the car," she said. "Everybody's like, 'I've never known anybody that's won a car.'"
'Fun little car'
Langford requested the car be delivered to Leigh Mall on Highway 45, where it arrived Nov. 29 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She said it drove through snow and ice to get here.
Langford's parents dropped her off at the mall to pick up the car and drove her Land Rover back to her house that afternoon.
So far she's only driven the BMW to-and-from work, though she added she's been tempted to take it at high speeds along Caledonia's country roads -- a temptation she's resisted so far.
"It is a fun little car to drive," she said. "But it is kind of small and compact, and you see how low it is. ... It handles good."
She added she is grateful to the fraternity not only for the car but for helping the process of getting it to Lowndes County go smoothly.
"The paperwork, the dealership, everybody's been great handling it," she said. "It's been very easy."
Strong hasn't been for a ride in it yet.
"Hopefully she'll take me around the corner one of these days," he said.
Still he said he's mostly happy that someone he knows won the car, which will bring attention to Omega Psi Phi chapters in the Golden Triangle.
As a whole, the raffle raised $40,000, half of which will go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Strong said. The other half of the proceeds will be divvied between community outreach programs which different Omega Psi Phi chapters are involved in.
Langford said she was particularly happy proceeds from the raffle are going to St. Jude. She ran a 5K during its Memphis Marathon Weekend last weekend, a course which took her through the hospital's grounds.
"They have (families and patients) lined up along the sides so you can give them high-fives or they're ringing cowbells to cheer you on," Langford said. "It gets emotional running through it. To see the families and all they're going through but they're out there cheering us on while we walk and run, that's pretty impressive."
She's glad to participate in anything -- raffles or marathons -- that raises money for the hospital, she said.
As happy as Langford is about winning the car, she's considering selling it. She said she knows locals who are BMW fans, while she likes her Land Rover. On the other hand, she said, plenty of her friends and family are encouraging her to keep it.
As for Strong, he plans to be selling raffle tickets for next year's fundraiser.
"Hopefully someone else will think they can be the new Ann Marie Langford 2019," he said.
"He's going to sell way more at the courthouse," she said.
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