Behind the scenes of a St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway (2024)

A few years back, the St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway in Colorado Springs, Colorado, came together like the finale of a TV show.

Heavy snow cut the typical build time in half.

It was a mad dash with subcontractors working on top of subcontractors to put the finishing touches on the home in time for the big giveaway.

This might sound like a made-for-television script, but it was reality for Colorado Springs-based home builder Covington Homes. And with social distancing and quarantine precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re planning for nothing short of dramatic this year as well.

Behind the scenes of a St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway (1)

“If we have to work after hours or work on a weekend, we will,” said Grace Covington, the company's co-owner and principal.

Each year, homes are built in cities across America and raffled off to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Known as the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway, the program has raised more than $450 million by way of $100 raffle tickets since it began in 1991, making it one of the largest St. Jude fundraisers.

Support from the fundraiser enables doctors and scientists at St. Jude to develop groundbreaking discoveries that are freely shared around the world, and ensures patient families never receive a bill from St. Jude.

Organizing the people who volunteer to build these homes requires massive effort and coordination. Construction partners, including developers and builders, volunteer their time and get most materials and labor donated, so the homes come in at little to no cost to St. Jude.

“We see the Dream Home as less of a fundraising program or event, but how we became part of the St. Jude family,” Grace said.

Grace and her husband, Ron, coordinate the 95 construction trade companies who have helped construct the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house in Colorado Springs for the past five years.

“We have a trade base who is working nonstop,” Grace said of the volunteers. “That takes away from a homeowner who wants their house finished, but we’re doing this because we believe in St. Jude and saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids. Because of that, we’re going to build an amazing house, not get paid for it and donate money when issues and fees come up.”

With the single-family housing market seeing its highest rates since 2007, the construction trade companies are already stretched thin, but they are more than willing to interrupt daily operations for the benefit of St. Jude.

That's partly because of the way Grace and Ron share the message of St. Jude with their partners.

They "workvery hard to talk to all the trades,” said Scott Thorson, chief operating officer at Oakwood Homes, which donates the Colorado Springs home site each year and builds its own St Jude Dream Home Giveaway house in Denver. “It’s not hard to make[everyone]see the value of what they are doing. Everyone knows giving feels better than receiving. We don’t have to work hard for people to see the value of what their donation does.”

For Ramon Serrano, a subcontractor with Westech Framing, bringing his crew of four to frame the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house each year reminds him how grateful he is to have the ability to work.

Ramon came to the U.S. from El Salvador during a period of civil war, landing in Los Angeles in 1985. A decade later, he moved to Colorado Springs.As a father and now grandfather, Ramon thanks God for his family’s health and prays for the patient families at St. Jude.

“I pray to God to heal those kids with cancer. It’s terrible. I believe in God and I am blessing those kids,” Ramon said. “I feel so happy when I donate my time and work — everything for St. Jude’s help.”

The people who build the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house each year are a microcosm of the construction industry itself.

“Our industry is probably the most culturally diverse industry,” Grace said. “All of our partners comprise hundreds of different cultures and nationalities. If you want to work hard and live out the American dream, working in construction is the best way to do it.”

In addition to the trade companies who donate materials and labor, there are also several supporters — called Architects of Hope — who fill in the gaps with monetary donations so the Colorado Springs home can be built free of any expense to St. Jude.

“It’s our way of giving back in the best way we know how,” said Tobi Mondejar, a senior loan consultant at loanDepot who partners with two other coworkers to give $10,000 with a $1,000 company match each year. “We’ve all had a family member — some of us personally have gone through cancer. We won’t stop until no child has to suffer or pass away from pediatric cancer.”

Each year, the donated St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house in Colorado Springs is valued at an estimated $450,000. It raises nearly $1 million annually for the research hospital.

Behind the scenes of a St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway (2)

Covington Homes recently broke ground on its sixth St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house, the eighth in Colorado Springs.

“Grace and Ron have always been very active participants in their community, whether it’s St. Jude or as a home builder,” Thorson said. “It was natural for them to do this. If you’ve met them, you can see in their hearts they are perfect for this.”

Ron and Grace were convinced to take the project on from another builder after they visited the St. Jude campus in Memphis and saw the amazing work taking place there.

“We saw that and thought this is such an amazing cause,” Grace said. “We’re not there creating breakthroughs, but we can build a house to keep giving to this amazing place that saves children.”

Each year when Covington Homes hosts a trade appreciation breakfast, Grace asks how many people have kids. How many know a kid? How many know someone who has a kid?

Then she asks, how many people here know a child who has cancer?

One by one the hands go up and she is amazed by the number of people who are impacted.

“From digging ditches to framing, pouring concrete, superintending or installing cabinets, we all have one common shared experience and, unfortunately, that’s childhood cancer,” Grace said. “It’s what motivates everyone to build this house every year.”

Behind the scenes of a St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway (2024)


Is the St. Jude House giveaway real? ›

Support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to help cure childhood cancer. St. Jude hosts more than 40 home giveaways throughout the U.S. Find a giveaway in the city of your choice and reserve your $100 ticket to be entered for your chance to win a new house and other great prizes.

Can you sell a St. Jude Dream home if you win? ›

St. Jude does not guarantee that a winner who receives a house will be able to sell it for the appraisal value or that the Internal Revenue Service will use that value in its tax calculations. With respect to any prize with a value of more than $5,000, the Internal Revenue Service requires St.

How do St. Jude Dream home winners pay taxes? ›

The taxes on the home are the responsibility of the winner. The IRS requires that taxes on prizes valued greater than $5,000 must be paid upon acceptance and before St. Jude may deliver the prize to the winner. Winners are encouraged to consult a tax professional.

What is the St. Jude's Hospital scandal? ›

The DOJ said kickbacks included alleged rebates that were retroactive and paid based on a hospital's previous purchases of St. Jude heart-device equipment. The DOJ also said St. Jude paid rebates for purchases of heart-device equipment sold by its competitors to induce purchases of similar equipment from St.

Can you sell an HGTV Dream Home after winning? ›

If you win the 2024 HGTV Dream Home on Anastasia Island, Florida, near St. Augustine, you can sell the home. If you win the 2024 HGTV Smart Home in Atlanta, Georgia, you can take the cash option, and the house would likely be put on the market. Several past winners of HGTV's popular sweepstakes contests have done that.

What is the problem with the HGTV Dream Home 2024? ›

– The HGTV 2024 Dream Home on Anastasia Island has been a controversial issue in St. Augustine because a seawall was built without the city's approval, without permits.

Do Dream Home winners keep the house? ›

According to HGTV, “Some winners decide to keep the home and some take the cash option. It's really a very personal decision, and each winner must decide what makes the most sense for them and their family at that moment in time.

How many tickets are sold for the St. Jude Dream Home? ›

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The 2024 St. Jude Dream Home Ticket Sell-A-Thon was a success. Our goal was to sell 26,000 tickets. We hit our goal a little after 8 a.m. Each ticket was $100, meaning we raised $2.6 million for St.

Who won the 2024 St. Jude Dream Home? ›

Congratulations to Lori Pillatzke of Rancho Mirage, CA for winning the 2024 Coachella Valley St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house.

How much money donated to St. Jude actually goes to charity? ›

Your gift will help save kids' lives and help drive the research to cure childhood cancer. We're proud that 82 cents of every dollar received goes to support the treatment, research and future needs of St. Jude.

Who won the HGTV Dream Home in 2024? ›

Marie Fratta of Hawthorne, New York, won the 2024 HGTV Dream Home in Florida. Winning an HGTV Dream Home is like winning the lottery − the odds are slim, and only a handful of people have won in the history of the sweepstakes contest.

Which is better to donate to St. Judes or Shriners? ›

Virtually all of the money is spent on running the hospitals, some has to be spent on fundraising campaigns, but Shriner's doesn't run nearly so many commercials. St. Jude's (Hospital) is highly rated.

How much money does the CEO of St. Jude's make? ›

What do you think that the CEO of St. Jude's Children's Hospital makes $1.3 million a year? Would that cause you to pause supporting it?

Who donated 50 million to St Jude's? ›

(Dec. 3, 2018) — AbbVie, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, today announced a historic $50 million donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

How much of your donation actually goes to St. Jude? ›

We're proud that 82 cents of every dollar received goes to support the treatment, research and future needs of St. Jude.

Do people actually win HGTV Dream Home? ›

Meet the lucky winner of HGTV Dream Home 2023 in Morrison, CO. Congratulations to Marie Davis of Rock Hill, SC! She is the winner of the HGTV® Dream Home 2023 sweepstakes, a grand prize package valued at over $2.7 million.

Are St. Jude fundraisers legit? ›

This charity's score is 96%, earning it a Four-Star rating. If this organization aligns with your passions and values, you can give with confidence.

What is the cash option for the HGTV Dream Home? ›

In lieu of taking title to the HGTV Dream Home 2024 (and the contents of the HGTV Dream Home), the grand prize winner could opt for the “cash option” or $650,000 in cash. Total ARV of the grand prize is $820,000 if grand prize winner selects the cash option in lieu of the HGTV Dream Home in Anastasia Island, Florida.

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