Cole Hope

Cole Hope, an eighth grader at George Read Middle School, won the DE Wins! vaccine lottery.

Thirteen-year-old Cole Hope had never won anything in his life until now.

"I didn't even know there was a vaccine lottery," he told WDEL.

He just got vaccinated against COVID-19 because, quite simply, he said, it's the right thing to do. Expecting nothing more than a sore arm and virus protection, you can imagine his surprise when he and his mother got a call last week from Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

"She was so excited because I think that he was the first winner to call back, and she was just like 'I'm just so excited. You just don't understand how amazing this prize is,'" recalled Cole's mother Tiffany Scales.

"It was exciting. It was kind of numb since it was so abstract in my mind that I couldn't really fathom it," he said.

Cole had won tickets to see the Blue Rocks in a luxury suite. He can invite up to 25 of his friends to watch the game in style, plus they get food and the works.

"I've never really been a baseball fan before, but the fact that I got the tickets was very exciting," he said.

And he's pretty pumped to do something we all haven't been able to do in quite awhile: hang out with friends.

"Being in a box with my friends and just having the luxury of being there and just hanging out," he said. "It means that time is progressing past the point where we can somewhat be comfortable around each other without having to fear getting the virus," he said.

Scales, who works as a counselor at Shue-Medill Middle School, said her district has taken initiative to ensure students and staff have access to vaccination.

"Through the course of the year, we've had several students who COVID had hit their homes, COVID has hit them, and unfortunately, we've had quite a few students who have lost loved ones due to COVID throughout the course of the year," she said.

Colonial School District is also hosting a vaccination clinic Saturday, June 12, 2021, at the Eisenberg Elementary School Wellness Center at 27 Landers Lane in New Castle from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is open to the public for any one ages 12 and up.

Cole will also be rolling up his sleeve to get his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine Saturday.

He's also got a message for all:

"Get vaccinated. There have been very little side effects, and help stop the spread, people haven't liked online learning and social distance learning in-person, so get vaccinated to stop the spread so we can avoid this in the future."

Other recent winners include Jamie Field of Dover, who a Firefly package on June 4 and Angela Thomas of Newark who won $5,000 on May 31.

As part of Delaware's goal to have a 70% vaccination rate by July 4, Governor John Carney recently announced additional prizes for the DE Wins! vaccine incentive program. Possible prizes also now include two full undergraduate scholarships to Wilmington University and two "all access" passes to every show at The Grand, the baby Grand, and the Playhouse on Rodney Square during the 2021-2022 season. For more information on prizes, visit DE Wins!

As of Wednesday, June 9,67.6 percent of Delaware adults had received at least one shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Find a vaccine clinic or provider near you by visiting de.gov/getmyvaccine.