By John Toole
---- — The five finalists in the New Hampshire Lottery’s $100,000-a-year “Set for Life” contest include a Methuen woman, 79, who last year won $10 million in a Massachusetts scratch game.
There’s also a disabled Derry man who said this chance couldn’t come at a better time.
“This came at the best time of my life,” Rolland “Frenchy” Tremblay said yesterday.
Tremblay, 62, an Utz potato chip distributor, said he is out of work on disability because of hip surgery.
“If I win the grand prize, I’m going to make my children and my grandchildren a lot happier,” Tremblay said. “Basically, I want to do good with it.”
His competition includes Helen Giarrusso, 79, who last year won $10 million in Massachusetts’ Diamond Millionaire game.
“I don’t know what millions are,” Giarrusso told The Eagle-Tribune then. “But it feels good because I can take care of my family.”
Through lottery officials, Giarrusso declined to be interviewed yesterday, but she has told them her grandson, James, will represent her for the drawing Sunday.
She told the lottery it was her first time playing “Set for Life” when she came up a qualifier with a winning ticket purchased at McKinnon’s Market in Salem.
At least 60 people had winning tickets of $1,000 or more that got them into a preliminary drawing earlier this summer to become finalists.
Tremblay said he twice won $1,000 in the “Set for Life” scratch game at Wayne’s Mobil in Derry.
Tremblay and Giarrusso have at least won $25,000 by emerging as two of the five finalists.
“I’m happy with that,” he said.
But in drawing Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Tremblay could cross the finish line for $100,000 a year for life.
Tremblay and his wife Debra have two children, two grandchildren and a third grandchild on the way.
Tremblay will bring a lucky rock his late father-in-law, Arthur Saunders, had when he was in a nursing home.
He said such rocks are called “spirit rocks” and are supposed to carry the spirit of the patient.
“He was my best friend for more than 40 years,” Tremblay said of Saunders, who died last year at age 92. “He always said don’t worry, he would take care of me.”
The five finalists for the drawing before the Sylvania 300 race also include Remi Gilbert of Windham. Other finalists are from North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Gilbert did not return a phone call, but lottery officials said he is in the construction business.
The lottery said there will be five large envelopes for the finalists to choose from. Four will have cash prize amounts in them: $25,000, $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000.
Someone will get the grand prize. That contestant gets to choose between two sets of bags.
Lottery spokesman Maura McCann said the bags could hold matching $100,000-a-year for life messages. If so, the contestant has won that prize.
If not, the person will get a $250,000 lump sum prize.
Gov. Maggie Hassan also will present James Donohue, a Kearsarge Regional Middle School student, with $3,000 in prizes for his school and class.
Donohue participated in the lottery’s heroes essay contest, in which he wrote about his mentor, George Smith.