SALEM — In a few months, the Schild family — Leanne, Herbert and their 7-year-old twins, Alexander and Maria — will be boarding a plane to Austria.
It’s a trip that was made possible, in part, by the family’s hometown of Salem.
Leanne Schild won a trip to Salzburg, Austria, through a recent online contest sponsored by the Visit Salzburg tourism office, beating out nine other finalists from across the U.S. What tipped the scales in her favor was the nearly 1,000 votes she received, mostly from the Salem community.
“It’s thanks to Salem,” said Schild. “I was really, really touched by that. ... It’s really nice to see that people cared about this person from Salem.”
Once Schild found out she was a finalist, she posted a message on Facebook asking friends to vote for her to win the trip. They did, as did their friends, and friends of friends. Even Mayor Kim Driscoll joined in the effort.
Schild was trailing another finalist through the four-day contest, but a flurry of votes — more than 600 — in the last 24 hours clinched the prize.
In the end, Schild’s total was 992 votes, 25 more than the runner-up.
“I still can’t even believe that I won a trip to Europe for the full family,” Schild said. “... It was quite a social media phenomenon.”
Now, when Schild is out in the community, people she doesn’t know, but who voted for her online, come up to her and congratulate her on winning the trip.
The Schilds are scheduling their trip to Salzburg for late May. They’ll have one week, all expenses paid, in Salzburg, including airfare, hotel, meals and admission to sightseeing attractions.
The trip will be a homecoming, of sorts, for the couple.
Herbert Schild is a native of Vienna; Leanne met him when she spent a semester in Austria for a college study-abroad program.