OAKRIDGE, Ore. — The city of Oakridge took center stage in Sunday night’s season finale of the ABC show “Secret Millionaire.”
Multi-millionaires George and Kym Rapier wrote checks totaling more than a million dollars to different groups around town–the biggest donation in show’s history.
Folks have been talking about this for the last two years, which was actually when crews were there filming.
“I had no idea who these people were. I think some other people figured it out, but I certainly didn’t. I thought they were were just some people here doing a documentary,” said Edwin Weih, Five Rivers Family Practice Physician Assistant.
But it was more than just a little documentary. It all a part of ABC’s show “Secret Millionaire,” where a wealthy couple donates to a small town in need.
“PTSO was given a hundred thousand dollars…We’re using it for scholarships, high school seniors that are graduating,” said Vicki Bates, PTSO President.
Another $280,000 went to the only clinic left in town.
“The board of directors of Five Family River Practice determined that paying off the mortgage on the building would keep us financially solvent,” Weih said.
Four hundred thousand dollars was awarded to the local fire department for a new ambulance and an extra pair of hands.
“All of our ambulances had reached their life expectancy, and so this has given us another 10 years to provide a good service to our community. And there was additional money to hire a fourth person, so now we can have two ambulances staffed by paramedics instead of just one,” said Tim Whittaker, Interim Fire Chief.
It didn’t end there. Another $325,000 was given to the city to distribute among its residents–$100 each. But some said many were left out in the cold.
“I believe the very poor and the very indigent that couldn’t come up with perfect proof were denied,” said Oakridge resident Susan Ostling.
City staff say that’s not true, and despite their efforts to notify all residents and even extend deadlines to provide people more time to turn in all the needed paperwork, about $112,000 was left over, which their benefactors told them to use for remaining city needs.
“In retrospect, they did a wonderful job showing Oakridge as a community that sticks together and works hard together, takes care of the people in Oakridge,” Weih said.
And they hope it’s just the beginning of their good fortune.
Each of the groups KEZI 9 News was able to talk to about being a part of the show says they’re grateful for the opportunity, and they’re doing their best to pay it forward to the rest of their community.