Toni Zeleny hopes she wins.

Of course, so do the 999 other people who will buy tickets for this year's $25,000 Prep Tuition Raffle.

In its third year, the raffle not only will give away money to be used for any K-12 school, college or university in the United States, as well as Fairfield College Preparatory School, but the proceeds will benefit Prep's scholarship and student enrichment programs.

Only 1,000 tickets -- for $100 apiece -- will be sold; at least 500 must be purchased to allow the raffle to proceed and if not, buyers will receive refunds. The winning ticket will be drawn at Prep's annual spring event, which will take place April 30 at the Marriott Stamford Hotel & Spa. The ticket holder does not have to attend to win.

Throughout an interview with Zeleny, the chairwoman of the 2011 raffle, she interjected her wish to win -- with considerable enthusiasm. With a freshman and a sophomore at the private college preparatory school, getting the big prize will come in handy.

Zeleny, from Fairfield, said the raffle is a "great way to support Prep," as well as to help with the finances of sending a child to school.

Few rules apply to the raffle. In fact, up to two students may be designated by the prize winner to receive the tuition award, but they must be named within four years of the drawing. Additionally, the prize will be paid directly to the school and in consecutive years, for up to four years, starting with the first year of the recipient's education at his or her designated school. Any unused portion of the money after the four years reverts to Prep.

In Laura Devlin Harkawik's case, winning the $25,000 in the raffle's inaugural year paid for her son's room and board at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. "We saved it for college," she said. "How great is that?" Harkawik, who again is purchasing a ticket, said hearing her name announced at the 2009 gala as the winner "was a huge surprise."

"You can buy those kinds of raffle tickets all the time, but you don't expect to win," she added.

A 15-year Fairfield resident, Harkawik said she was more than glad to help out the school since her son enjoyed his years at Prep. "It was his choice to go there," she said. Calling it a "tremendous experience" for him, she observed the brotherhood and the bond among the students, the values instilled in them and the camaraderie. "I am happy to support the school," she said.

Colleen Adams, the Jesuit school's director of communications, said Prep's scholarship program provides financial aid to students who qualify. With the student enrichment component, funding is provided to allow financial aid students to participate in special trips, such as those to El Salvador and Ecuador or with the Appalachia Christian Service, or to receive special services. As an example of the latter, she said, a student may not have a computer at home for use with homework, so Prep makes one available.

Zeleny said the ticket sales are going well, but she expects March and April to be the big push. As has been done in prior years, she said, parents will be camped out in front of the school so when their counterparts drop off their kids, they will be asked to buy a ticket. They don't even have to get out of their cars, Zeleny added. "We want to make it as convenient as possible for them to participate," she said.

Tickets also will be sold at the Senior Mother/Son Communion Breakfast on April 10 and the Sophomore Parents Guidance Evening on April 28. Zeleny also said tickets will be available at the "gift-giving parties" this weekend and next at which attendees buy a gift to be auctioned off at the spring gala.

Additionally, tickets can be ordered through Prep's development office by e-mailing development@fairfieldprep.org or calling 203-254-4237.