Many strangers attended Diane Sweeney’s funeral to try their luck at winning her Volkswagen Beetle as her last wish was to give away her car in a raffle.
Diane Sweeney's last wish was something quite out of the ordinary. The late Oklahoma woman's "humorous" last wish was to raffle her car off to one lucky stranger who attended her funeral. Sweeney had died "suddenly and unexpectedly" after a brief illness on July 7, 2022, at the age of 68, according to her obituary posted on Resthaven Funeral Home & Memory Gardens. Many strangers attended her funeral to try their luck at winning the white 2016 Volkswagen Beetle.
Sweeney had bought the car seven years prior, which had sentimental value to her and her family. It represented the person she was. According to Fox News, her niece, Suzanne Singleterry, revealed that the vehicle highlighted her playfulness, creativity and sense of humor as she cruised the roads of Oklahoma while singing the likes of Carole King and James Taylor. The idea of giving away her car also represented Sweeney's generosity. "She always had a giving spirit," Sweeney’s nephew Rick Ingram said to Fox News Digital.
Teen wins car in raffle after attending stranger's funeral https://t.co/zyYr1DpO6l— ELLIOT IN THE MORNING (@EITMonline) October 11, 2023
For many years, Sweeney would randomly joke about giving away her car at her funeral, but a month before her passing, she made it a formal request with Ingram. Sweeney wanted to do something different that would be fun but also change someone's life for the better. The funeral not only saw friends and family members but many strangers too. People from different backgrounds gathered around at the funeral and it didn't matter if they knew Sweeney or not. "This is exactly how she would have wanted it. People from all walks of life were here. All ages, faces, races. Some of them came just because they heard about this woman's story, and they needed a car," Singleterry told KFOR. "I'm excited for Aunt Diane's memory to live on this way," she added.
Eventually, the lucky winner turned out to be 16-year-old Gabriella Bonham from El Reno. The family told her via a phone call, "Congratulations, you were the winner!" To which Bonham replied, "This is crazy! Thank you guys so much!" The family went the extra mile and also picked out 10 additional names from the raffle box and planned to give out a small appreciation gift to those who attended the funeral.
As for the young teen, she had mostly forgotten about the funeral and went on about her daily routine the months after attending it. But it meant the world to her because she always wanted that very car. "I have a hand-me-down car that has some issues, and we were trying to figure out ways that I could get a new car. So, it was just an answer to prayers," said Bonham.
Bonham told The Washington Post that she'd been driving it around ever since she got her license and it's given her a lot of freedom. It's even inspired her to do something similar. A lot of people she's spoken to about the funeral raffle also want to do something similar when it's their time to go. "It's just kind of a domino effect," she said.