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Who won the Vette raffle for Special Needs Sports?

Donnie Jones thanks sheriff's deputies and senior men's softball players for helping raise money for his Special Needs Sports program.

Donnie Jones and his brother Gary, the high sheriff, and Don Ward, the king of senior men’s softball, laughed, joked and ribbed one another as each name was pulled from the bowl.

The bowl contained 216 tickets, plucked out one by one until only the winner remained. When the name of a family member, friend or their own name came out, he or she was eliminated from the raffle prize — a black 1994 Corvette Coupe with black leather seats and a hoss of a 5.7-liter 300 horsepower motor with sequential fuel injection.
The winner was Tony Ward, who is in his mid-80s.
“He came in the shop last week and bought a ticket,” Donnie Jones said. “He’s tickled to death. He came Saturday evening and picked it up. It wasn’t 10 minutes (after a call) he was here. He drove her home.”
Jones organized the raffle and a charity softball game at Berkeley Park Saturday afternoon.
He bought the black Vette for $15,000 and sold $100 raffle tickets. After getting his money back, the raffle raised $6,600. The proceeds went to Jones’s Special Needs Sports and Sheriff Lowell Griffin’s STAR camp for kids. Although the total was less than Jones hoped — and quite a bit south of the amount he raised with a previous Corvette raffle — “it’s better than nothing.”
On the diamond at historic Berkeley Field, sheriff’s deputies defeated a men’s senior softball team 10-5 in a seven-inning game. Little League players and kids and adults who play Special Needs Sports ran the bases because … well, 90 feet!
The benefit softball game “wasn’t a collaboration,” Sheriff Griffin said. It was conceived, organized and promoted by Jones.
“He calls up and says, ‘I bought this Corvette, I’m gonna do a fundraiser.’ We assist him selling the tickets,” Griffin said. “He gets his money back and everything over and above goes to charity. And it's really important for us to get out here also to participate and be part of something and be part of the community.”
In the years since he started Special Needs Baseball in 2011, Jones has added basketball, martial arts, a Valentine’s Day dance and a craft fair that sells merchandise made by his special kids and adults.
“Any one of those endeavors — (would be) tremendous,” the sheriff said. “But the effort and the passion Donnie puts into this stuff, it’s unheard from anybody. I don’t know if anybody would ever find somebody like him anywhere else, that just goes out and gets it done. He’s got one of the biggest hearts of anybody I’ve ever known.”