Fortuitous timing: With old golf cart breaking down, Altamont resident wins new one

— Photo from BML Public Relations

Winner, winner: Clair Hesselton, center, with his brand-new golf cart that he won in a raffle, as part of ShopRite’s annual veterans’ fundraising campaign. To his left is Nick Normile, an account manager with DeCrescente, a beverage distributor, and standing behind Hesselton is Mike Sherwin, of Polar Beverages.

ALTAMONT — The last time that Joan Hesselton had to call her husband, Clair, repeatedly with news, their house had collapsed.

“Much better outcome this time,” Clair Hesselton said wryly.

“My wife just thought it was a prank,” Hesselton said, “because the person calls and says he’s the vice president of Shoprite.”

When Joan did get a hold of her husband, it was to tell him that they had won a golf cart in a raffle they had entered for ShopRite’s annual veterans’ fundraising campaign, which raised $1 million for local veterans’ organizations. Hesselton, a Marine who fought in the Vietnam War, was injured during his time in the service.

“It was funny because we’d been looking to replace the one that we had,” Hesselton said. “We bought it used, 25 years ago.” He will use the cart, he said, to get around his five-acre property.

Hesselton, who uses a wheelchair, said that he would have no problem driving his new cart. “Let’s put it this way, I have controls that’ll fit on the golf cart,” putting on spin that was common for an old public-relations agent and advertising-agency creative director.

An Altamont resident for the past 30 years, Hesselton is retired from PR and advertising, but continues to coach tennis at Russell Sage College.

“I played wheelchair sports ... for a lot of years,” he said.

Hesselton played professional wheelchair tennis for 17 years, was then a teaching professional, and, for the last 27 years, he’s been a coach.

“It was just a pure, freak happenstance,” Hesselton said of his raffle win.

He and his wife were in the Slingerlands Shoprite and had checked out already, but the cashier forgot to ring up a raffle ticket. Joan told her husband to go back and buy a ticket.

“She says, ‘It’s for a good cause; a veterans’ organization,” Hesselton, a member of the American Legion, recounted.

 

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