Agnes D'Cafango did not expect her 9-month-old daughter to have much chance to win the $20,000 Baby 2000 Scholarship, but she registered for the contest the day before the deadline just in case.
During a short ceremony Sunday afternoon at Nugget Mall, Juneau Empire Publisher Don Smith pulled Adrianna Irene D'Cafango's name from about 200 that had been placed in a bassinet.
"This is a great start for my baby," said Agnes D'Cafango, who wants a good education for all three of her daughters. "This will help pay for her college when Agnes Jr. (who is 4) is already there."
"Thank God she's got most of her college paid for," agreed oldest daughter Misty, 18. "The family has two other kids to put through college."
Before Sunday, D'Cafango said the only thing she'd ever won in a contest was an 8-by-10-inch photograph. She was still "numb" from the announcement of her daughter winning the $20,000 scholarship.
D'Cafango was all smiles when asked about her children's future.
"I just want all my daughters to be happy," she said.
"Congratulations," Smith told her. "I will be following Adrianna and what she does."
He said he wished all 200 children were getting scholarships.
"It's tough to single one out," said Smith.
The scholarship program is a joint effort by the Juneau Empire and its parent company, Morris Communications, with local support from Bartlett Regional Hospital and the Juneau Family Birth Center.
Any baby born to Juneau parents between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2000, was eligible for monthly drawings of $100 as well as the grand prize. The $20,000 scholarship can be used for an approved college, technical or vocational post-secondary education institution.
"A quality education is the centerpiece of our vision of the future and we're proud to have a hand in it," Empire Marketing and
Advertising Director Robin Paul said before the drawing. "Every child in Juneau should be able to get a quality education."
Sheryl Washburn, Bartlett patient care administrator, estimated there were about 400 births during 2000.
"I wish every parent who had a baby in 2000 would've entered this," Washburn said. "We're really happy to be part of something as wonderful as this scholarship process."
"Any parent is going to need help with their children's education," said Kaye Kanne, executive director of the Birthing Center.
More than 100 people, mostly young parents with babies in their arms or in strollers, crowded around the mall corridor near Susan's Hallmark. A 15-foot likeness of a bear - made up of more than 400 red, blue, pink and white balloons - towered over the parents and children.
April McKinney entered her 1-year-old daughter, Leena, in the contest.
"One in 200 is not bad odds," she said.
Rachel Webster's 13-month-old son Noah did not win, but she was just happy for a shot at the prize.
"It's great because it gives an Alaskan baby a start in college," Webster said. "As a single mom, $20,000 is a big help."
Mike Sica can be reached at email@example.com.
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