Julio and Justine Gavino with their 9-month-old twins stand in front of the St. Jude Dream Home they won in a drawing on Sunday. The couple purchased five tickets for the Virginia Beach home. Altogether, the fundraiser gathered more than $1.2 million.
Julio and Justine Gavino with their 9-month-old twins stand in front of the St. Jude Dream Home they won in a drawing on Sunday. The couple purchased five tickets for the Virginia Beach home. Altogether, the fundraiser gathered more than $1.2 million.

Archived Story

Suffolk couple wins Dream Home

Published 10:43pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Current North Suffolk residents Julio and Justine Gavino are excited to be moving out of the city after they purchased the winning ticket for the St. Jude Dream Home giveaway.

Their new, 3,100-square-foot home is located in the Ashville Park neighborhood in Virginia Beach. Constructed by Stephen Alexander Homes, it has an estimated value of $525,000.

The giveaway, an annual fundraiser for the children’s hospital, raised more than $1.2 million and also gave away luxury prizes like free groceries for a year, a $10,000 Value City Furniture prize package, a $2,500 American Express gift card, a 55-inch Samsung LED television and more.

Julio Gavino said he was surprised to win the dream home.

“Obviously, there’s a huge shock factor there,” he said. “We don’t ever go into these things expecting to win anything. We’ve always given to St. Jude’s. Obviously, it’s a good cause, and you don’t expect to get anything in return.”

But Justine, his wife, wasn’t terribly surprised to learn they had won.

“I had a feeling we were going to win that house when I purchased the tickets,” she said. “It’s very hard to describe in words when you have this feeling something’s really going to happen.”

Justine Gavino told her family and co-workers she was going to win the house.

“They would chuckle and walk away,” she said. “Now, they’re eating their words.”

They were planning to move to that area anyway, so the Gavinos figured they had nothing to lose.

“If we win it, that’s great; if not, then at least the money’s going to a good cause,” Justine Gavino reasoned.

The couple initially purchased three tickets for the house, but then they got a letter in the mail inviting them to come visit. Justine Gavino stopped by and decided to buy two more tickets on site.

As it turned out, it was one of those final tickets that won them the house.

The couple learned they had won the home as they watched the drawing live on television on Sunday. They were getting themselves and their 9-month-old twins ready to leave the house, so Julio Gavino was distracted when he thought he heard his wife’s name.

“It didn’t click initially,” he said. “I hit the rewind button on the DVR, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe we won.’”

He started screaming and ran to the bottom of the staircase to shout to his wife upstairs.

“I had never heard him scream like that before,” Justine Gavino said. At first, she thought he was pulling her leg, getting her back for being so confident they were going to win.

“That’s not nice,” she recalls telling him. But when her husband rewound the DVR and played the segment again, she started crying.

The couple, who grew up in the area and have known each other since high school, hope to move into their new home by June. They will keep their Suffolk townhouse and rent it out until the market gets better to sell it.

Julio Gavino said he still can’t believe what is happening.

“You never think you’re going to win,” he said. “A lot of the times you think, ‘Who wins these things?’ You never see them; you never know them.”

The couple said they are happy to have a larger place for their twins — one boy and one girl — to grow up in. They have learned that St. Jude patients and volunteers signed the cement foundation and other hidden parts of the house, giving them a special story to tell their children when they are older.

“There’s a lot of special things in the house that you don’t see,” Julio Gavino said. “I’m happy to be a part of that and have a place for our family to grow.”

The Gavinos weren’t the only Suffolk residents to win big in the drawing. Cynetheia Griffin won a 14-karat yellow gold ruby and diamond ring.

For more information on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Dream Home giveaway, visit www.stjude.org.

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