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A Wad of cash

Doris Riese, 81, of Wadena was a very surprised $10,000 cash prize winner at the Wad of Fun Finale on Saturday at Wadena County Stadium.

"I couldn't believe it would be me," Riese said were her thoughts when she arrived that afternoon.

Her modest expectations soon turned to words of disbelief when Rick Youngbauer from KWAD radio rang the number of the cell phone in the shoe box with the turquoise ribbon she selected.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it," she kept repeating after her fellow finalists and the event coordinators assured her she had won.

Riese knew her cell phone had rung, but she thought the others rang, too, she said.

"I was just mixed up, it was so exciting," she said. "Then everyone was hollering that I had won."

One hundred and twenty five qualifiers showed up to the drawing. The numbers were eventually whittled down to 60 qualifiers, then 30, then 10, until there were 5 finalists waiting to hear the ring of the cell phones loaned by Arvig Communications Systems and Unicel.

"I surprised myself by getting as far as I did," she said.

Riese said at each elimination, she felt she would be the one to go.

Riese said she has never won anything other than small prizes, like candy bars. She typically doesn't even bother entering her name.

"I, as a rule, never participate in these things," she said. "It was just a matter of putting my name on it and wasting time."

An employee at Fix's Family Foods changed Riese's mind with some well-timed encouragement, however.

"I said 'I never win,'" Riese recalled. "[The employee said] 'Well, you never know, there's a first time for everything.'"

She slipped her name into the box and left with her groceries. She soon received a letter saying she was a qualifier for the prize.

"After that, every time I stopped in, I put one in," she said. "It was interesting that way. Knowing that you were qualified made it more fun."

Riese hasn't decided yet what she will do with the money, she said.

"I would like to put in a few dollars for some of the needs here in town," she said. "And also the church."

Riese attends St. John Lutheran Church where her husband was the pastor for 11 years before passing away in 1979. She had eight children, seven are still living, and 17 grandchildren.

She will tell her children today (Thursday) about her big prize. Riese is attending her grandson's wedding in Wisconsin and all but two of her family members will be at the ceremony.

"I'm waiting until I can see them and surprise them," she said.