Former Erwin Middles principal grand prize winner In Nazareth fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2020

ROCKWELL — When Elliott Mathis got a phone call late Saturday afternoon informing him he was the grand prize winner of Nazareth Child & Family Connection’s Fun Fest raffle, he thought someone was playing a practical joke.

It was no joke. His name was drawn from the many thousands of entries to win a new 2020 Toyota Corolla SE or $10,000 donated by Cloninger Ford Toyota of Salisbury.

“I was pretty surprised. I thought it was a prank call,” said Mathis, who said he’s been buying chances on the annual Nazareth Fun Fest raffle every year “probably since they started selling them.” This was the first time his name has been drawn for any prize.

He said he missed the first call from Nazareth Saturday afternoon but got another call about his win from Nazareth President and CEO Vernon Walters Jr. a little later in the day.

Mathis opted to go with the $10,000 cash option instead of the new 2020 Toyota Corolla SE. It was a pretty simple decision, he said.

“I don’t need another vehicle … I don’t need the new insurance,” said Mathis, who purchased 10 tickets for the raffle, Nazareth’s largest fundraiser each year.

Ironically, Mathis said, he is going to use a portion of the winnings to pay off the loan on his truck. “I guess I am getting a new vehicle,” he laughed.

The raffle was part of Nazareth’s 114th annual Fun Fest that was salvaged after the larger day-long event was cancelled out of concerns presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grand prize drawing along with drawings for several lesser items were held via Facebook live from the Nazareth campus.

“We were faced with quite a few challenges with Fun Fest this year. While we were disappointed that we had to cancel it (Fun Fest), we’re excited we were able to continue with the raffle,” said Walters. “We had to scramble a bit to pull it off, but with hard work from a lot of folks we were able to do it. And we couldn’t have done it without Cloninger Ford Toyota. They have been such a wonderful partner with Nazareth for a long time.”

Mathis is quite familiar with Nazareth and its contribution to the area. He was a longtime assistant principal at Erwin Middle School in Salisbury before retiring a few years ago.

“I’ve taught and worked with children from Nazareth for a long time,” said Mathis, who lives in Granite Quarry. “I’m very familiar with them. What they do is incredible. They have their challenges and their rewards. It’s not an easy job … actually I’m not sure it’s a job. It’s more of a calling what they do.”

About Nazareth Child & Family Connection: Founded in 1906, Nazareth Child & Family Connection is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for every child, individual and families. In addition to the residential services for children and foster care program, Nazareth Child & Family Connection has outpatient facilities in Salisbury, Lexington and Albemarle serving individuals with mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, as well as behavioral health needs.

Nazareth offers an array of services, including family foster care, adoptions, transitional living services for young adults, level two therapeutic residential, individual and group outpatient therapy, psychiatric services and outpatient substance abuse therapy in Rowan, Davidson and Stanly counties. If you would like more information about giving or volunteering at Nazareth, contact Blair Wilson, Director of Development, at 704-279-5556 ext. 113 or email