New Hanover County Schools student, Winston-Salem teacher win first vaccine lottery prizes

Draw manager Tim Rink reads through papers dispensed by a lottery machine after conducting the first drawing for the NC DHHS $1 million vaccine Summer Cash Drawings lottery in Raleigh. (Port City Daily/NC Department of Health and Human Services)

A Winston-Salem teacher is the first winner of North Carolina’s $1 million vaccine lottery, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday morning. A New Hanover County Schools student won the $125,000 college scholarship prize.

Shelly Wyramon, a mother of three and educator with 20 years of experience, appeared at the governor’s press conference. She explained she opted to receive the Covid-19 vaccine because she and her husband Bill both have aging parents who they wanted to protect from the virus. She also indicated she wanted to get back in the physical classroom.

“I wanted to do my small part to be able to stop the spread of this [virus],” Wyramon said. “I wanted to be able to get back to spending precious time with those that I loved, and those children that I love to teach.”

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Vania Martinez, a 14-year-old from Wilmington, won the $125,000 scholarship prize to use at any college of her choice. Martinez recently graduated from Myrtle Grove Middle and will start as a freshman at Ashley High School this fall, according to New Hanover County Schools.

“It was exciting but at the same time crazy because I started a summer job so I could save up for college,” Martinez said.

There are three more drawings for $1 million between now and Aug. 4. Anyone who is vaccinated after June 10, the day the lottery was announced, will have their name automatically entered into the drawings twice.

Cooper acknowledged the lottery hasn’t boosted vaccinations as much as anticipated, but he is hopeful Monday’s announcement will spark interest. Fifty-five percent of the state’s adult population is now vaccinated.

“We got to pull out all the stops to get this done,” Cooper said.

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