by Jeff Collins

Editor’s note: This is a contributed blog post from Jeff Collins, who won the grand prize in our Duke Nukem Presents Happy Endings sweepstakes.

I’m happy to say that I am the winner of the GeForce.com sweepstakes trip to the Duke Nukem Forever launch event in Dallas. Winning this contest and going to the launch event has been almost surreal. In fact, there was a time when I thought I wouldn’t have a chance to see the year 2011, let along witness the launch of Duke Nukem Forever. Let me explain.

A distant 15 years ago, I put a $10 deposit on Duke Nukem Forever and received a free Duke Nukem action figure. Less than a year later, my deposit was refunded and Duke’s return seemed grim.

Then, in 2009, following multiple stints in the U.S. military, which included working with nuclear submarines, I was diagnosed with stage 3.5 tongue cancer. On the Monday before Thanksgiving Day of that same year, I underwent surgery to have radioactive pellets inserted into my throat. The Monday before Christmas, I started radiation and chemotherapy treatment for seven weeks.

Needless to say, things looked grim.

But things turned around. In 2010, I successfully kicked my cancer to the curb. I amazed my doctors with the speedy recovery. For this, I consider myself lucky.

And it looks like my luck may have changed for good.

I was perusing the web one day and came upon a GeForce.com sweepstakes offering a chance to win a trip to the Duke Nukem Forever launch event. I entered in passing – I entered my name and email into the contest entry form on GeForce.com — with the thought it was a joke because Duke is never coming out and there is no way I would win. I was completely wrong on both counts.

NVIDIA contacted me to let me know that I had won the contest. They also confirmed that Duke Nukem Forever was actually going to launch. The first thing I did was call my friend Newell to let him know that he would need to take Friday off. He asked why and when I explained the situation, he was elated, albeit just as shocked as I was. A short couple of days later, Newel, my Duke Nukem action figure and I were on our way from Connecticut to Dallas, Texas for Duke Nukem Presents Happy Ending.

We really had a first-class time. I never felt out of place and received way more attention than I think we deserved. Happy Ending was an amazing party. I believe Newel said it best: “When you are ready to rock, you only roll with NVIDIA.” I am not really sure what I could say that would truly express the appreciation I feel for being a part of this event. I will remember this weekend for a very long time.

Here’s to many more action-packed adventures with the Duke.

Hail to the King, baby.