Donald Savastano was a hardworking American carpenter whose luck showed up a day late and a dollar short. Unable to afford health insurance, it took winning one million dollars in the New York State Lottery for Savastano to afford a visit to the doctor's office. Unfortunately, it was too late. Donald Savastano passed away from stage 4 cancer 23 days after claiming his lottery winnings. His tragic story gives a name and face to the millions of Americans whose dreams and lives are cut short by a broken healthcare system.
Donald Savastano Worked Hard for the American Dream
Savastano was the essence of an American. As a child, he learned his craft of carpentry from his father, with whom he was very close. After putting in time on commercial projects and paying his dues in the union, Donald was able to become self-employed. For the past decade, Savastano lived in Sidney, New York, with his beloved girlfriend of twelve years, Julie, and her two sons, Alex and Casper, whom Donald helped raise.
He Believed in Doing Things Right
The hardworking carpenter from Queens, New York, prided himself in his high-quality work and his attention to detail. Donald’s family writes, “He always tried to reach out and help those he could by teaching them ‘the right way to do things.”
The American Dream is Not Always a Two-Way Street
However, as so many of us know, doing things the ‘right way,’ does not necessarily equate to one being treated right by life, by circumstance, or by one’s country.
Unfortunately, this was the case for Donald Savastano. His hard work and dedication to the American dream were ultimately not reciprocated by the American healthcare system. After 51 years of working hard and doing things the right way, Donald found himself not feeling well yet unable to afford a visit to the doctor.
The Lottery Winner Found One Million Reasons to Believe
So when Donald scratched off the tiny numbers on his “Merry Millionaire” lottery scratcher, he thought that he had just found one million reasons to believe that things were about to turn around for him; that doing things the right way counted for something in the grand scheme of things. Donald had won one million dollars in the New York State Lottery.
The Carpenter had Modest Plans and High Hopes
Unable to claim his prize until Monday, Donald told state lottery officials, “I couldn’t believe it! I kept it under wraps over the weekend, but I did take it out a few times to convince myself it was real.”
In true entrepreneurial fashion, Donald Savastano remained fiscally reasonable when it came time to collect his winnings. He didn’t plan on purchasing a Hummer and a mansion. He planned on being able to actually retire one day, and told lottery officials, “I’m probably going to go get a new truck and I don’t know probably go on vacation.”