With Alaska’s vaccine sweepstakes ending soon, Dillingham winner encourages others to get the shot

A family poses for a photograph outside.
Leo Roehl (top left) with his family in 2016. (Courtesy of Leo Roehl)

This is the last week for Alaskans to sign up for the Give AK a Shot sweepstakes, a program meant to encourage Alaskans to get vaccinated. Each week, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce announces winners from across the state.

Dillingham resident Leo Roehl was one of three names drawn last week as a winner of $49,000. He said he’s still in shock.

“I mean, I couldn’t believe it,” Roehl said. “Still kind of a dream — still waiting to get pinched.”

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Roehl and his son both got sick toward the end of September. They thought it was the flu, but then they tested positive for COVID-19. Both quarantined for 10 days, which is required under the City of Dillingham’s current emergency orders.

After those 10 days, Roehl decided to get the vaccine on his way to get a COVID-19 test before a doctor’s appointment.

“I figured, well, I’m here at the clinic — I might as well get my COVID shot too,” Roehl said. “I told my son Jaden I wasn’t going to do this COVID shot without him. So I pulled him out of school. We went to the clinic, filled out the paperwork, got our COVID shots, he got back to the courtesy van, went back to school and I went on to my appointments.”

And that night, Roehl and his son signed up for the sweepstakes. About a week later, Roehl won. He said he plans to use that money to address some health issues.

“Physical, mental and emotional with the stuff I’m going through,” he said. “I had a stroke in February. Trying to get help here and I get referred, referred. So now this will give me a nice nest egg to be able to move closer to a hospital in a place where I can get the assistance that I need.”

Roehl said he encourages others to get vaccinated as well.

“Definitely,” he said. “Let’s do it for our elders and our children.”

The deadline to enter the sweepstakes is Oct. 30.

The sweepstakes launched on Sept. 2. About 123,500 vaccinated people entered the competition before the first week, according to the Alaska Chamber. Since then, 7,789 newly vaccinated people have signed up for the sweepstakes.

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