Woman wins trip home to be with family for the first time in four years
YAKIMA, Wash. - 2016 will be a hard year to beat for one local family after one of them got the opportunity of lifetime.
Karen Sepeda is literally one in a million.
"It’s a miracle, it’s a miracle prize,” said Karen Sepeda.
And a miracle that happened when she needed it most.
While taking care of her sick husband, Sepeda entered into a competition on Facebook to win a scuba diving trip to the Bahamas from First National Bank. Sepeda said she never thought she would actually win.
“The actual day he passed or the following day is when First National called to tell me I won the contest," said Sepeda.
But at the time, a vacation was the last thing on Karen’s mind.
“I told her you called me at a bad time, my husband just passed and I hung up on her," said Sepeda.
Karen continued to ignore the calls for months but the staff at First National were persistent.
“She explained to me, 'well there’s got to be someplace you’d like to go for Christmas,' and that was the magic question," said Sepeda.
Sepeda turned down the Bahamas in exchange for an all-expense paid trip to Yakima to see her five kids and 15 grandchildren, including two she had never met.
“It’s pretty exciting! It’s been quite a few years since we were able to see her and visit with her in person," said Jason Chavez, Sepeda's son.
The eleven days in Yakima allowed Sepeda to go and buy Christmas presents for her grand kids, with help from First National Bank. Sepeda was also able to treat her whole family to an all-expense paid dinner at the Black Angus Steak House.
Her son said while communication has stayed frequent over the years, nothing beat having her in person.
“That’s obviously a different thing when you can hold somebody and hug them and squeeze them and you actually feel the love rather than just you know, see it," said Chavez.
And despite all the spoiling she got to treat her grand-kids to, they also agreed the best gift of all was having Grandma home for the holidays.
“I’m happy because she always has a smile on her face and makes me happy," said Bailey Chavez, Sepeda's granddaughter.
“I got to spend a lot of good time with her," said Jason Chavez Jr., Sepeda's grandson.
Now, Karen said her next trip to Yakima will be to stay for good.
“To sum it up, it woke me up life wise. Knowing that it’s time to come home. Even though Illinois is my home, this is home for me now," said Sepeda.
Sepeda said had she not won the competition she probably would have spent the holidays alone in her home in Illinois and says she cannot thank First National Bank enough for their efforts.