05/19/2015 03:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Homeless Widow With Four Kids Wins Million Dollar House

When Joanne's husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and dementia in 2008 at age 46, she says the life they had built together with four children began to fall apart.

"His illness progressed so much that he lost his job. We lost our only source of income," says Joanne, now 51. "His health declined quickly, and we were forced to put him in a nursing home. The bills piled up ... We were drowning. We couldn't visit him very often because we couldn't afford the gas."

After the bank foreclosed on their house, Joanne and the kids resorted to sleeping in their van. Ultimately, they moved into an apartment, but it was robbed, leaving them with almost nothing except her husband's wedding ring. "We were back on the street," recalls Joanne.

Her husband passed away several months ago.

Joanne, an avid fan of the TV show The Doctors, entered the show's "Million Dollar Healthy Home Sweepstakes" sponsored by Lennar, and out of hundreds of thousands of entries, she was selected through a double-blind process as the winner of an approximately $1.2 million home! The home is deemed "healthy" because it has energy-efficient appliances, drywall that reduces air pollution and contaminants, toxic-free paint, plumbing that promotes water conservation, and formaldehyde-free insulation.

Watch her story in the video above, including the emotional moment that she finds out her life will forever change.

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