Woman donates prize to fire department
PACKWOOD – Mandy Hammes of Packwood won $30,000 from the Iowa Lottery Aug. 5 and plans to give a portion of her winnings to the Richland Fire Department.
Hammes said she will donate a large share of the money to the fire department so it can purchase grain bin rescue equipment. That particular equipment is important to her because she lost her father-in-law to a farming accident in January 2012. She started playing lottery games shortly thereafter in the hopes of winning a prize and donating it to the fire department.
Hammes purchased her winning ticket Aug. 3 in North English while on a shopping trip with her daughter during the tax-free weekend. She bought an Iowa Lottery scratch ticket, and when she rubbed away the opaque covering, her eyes filled with tears of joy.
“Now we would have extra money to get the organization off the ground,” Hammes said.
The organization of which she spoke is Farm Awareness Community Training (FACT). Hammes started the organization with Amanda Adam of Washington County to promote farm safety.
In 2009, Adam was involved in a farm accident in which she fell into a full manure pit 8 feet deep, in which she was submerged for more than a minute. Fortunately for Adam, Washington resident Randy Stalder was at the farm and pulled her out of the pit.
To educate the public and especially young people about farm safety, Hammes and Adam will put on the “First Harvest Safety Day” Friday, Sept. 6 at Pekin School. The organizers will begin training kids on farm safety at 8:25 a.m.
“The school is very excited about this,” Hammes said. “They find it of great value. The school is in the heartland of combining, and they know they have students going out and doing this kind of work.”
The organizers are trying to bring various fire and rescue squads from the area to the event. Adam plans on telling her story. J.J. Greiner, who survived a terrifying accident in which he was run over by a tractor with a mower on the back, also will share his personal experiences.
“It’s a miracle he survived,” Hammes said.
A representative from the Iowa Public Health Department will attend the safety day, too.
Hammes hopes to have a couple of simulated dangers at the safety day as educational tools. She wants to have a manure engulfment simulator and a grain engulfment simulator. She said it will be one of the first times the manure engulfment simulator has gone on the road.
The lifestyles of both Hammes and her husband have changed considerably since her father-in-law’s death. Her husband quit his full-time job to take on the farming duties. Now that her husband is farming, she wants to ensure local fire departments have the equipment and training necessary to save him should he ever fall victim to a farm accident as well.
In addition to working a full-time job herself, Hammes has trained fire departments in the use of grain bin rescue equipment. She has trained 19 fire departments, all pro bono.
The organization that supports the training is the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, managed by Dan Neenan. Neenan will be at the First Harvest Safety Day at Pekin.
The $30,000 lottery prize was not the first Hammes has won, not even the first one this year. A few weeks earlier, she won $1,000 playing the Iowa Lottery.
“After I won $1,000, my husband said, ‘You’re done now, right?’” Hammes said. “I had to call and confess that I bought a few more tickets and we won a little bit more.”