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2004-12-03 17:13:59

News Readers In Paradise

Ten pairs of Daily News readers won a free trip to the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island to celebrate the launch of service to the Bahamas by Song airlines.

NASSAU, Bahamas - Walking barefoot on the beach, Gail and Jimmy Velke gazed out at the azure sea yesterday and marveled at their luck.
"It's gorgeous," said Gail Velke, 61, of Bayside, Queens.

"Look at the color of that water," added Jimmy, 63.

The Velkes were just one of 10 pairs of Daily News readers who won a free trip to the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island to celebrate the launch of service to the Bahamas by Song airlines.

With the temperature hovering just above freezing in New York, the lucky couples basked in the 80-degree sunshine and enjoyed the gourmet meals, water slides and shark tanks at the luxury resort.

Stanley and Sandi Acker couldn't help thinking about their Bahamas honeymoon 34 years ago this week.

"I'm having a ball," said Stanley Acker, 62, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. "It's unbelievable. Thank you, Daily News, for showing us a great time."

Lucia Cabrera, 34, a social worker from Flatbush, couldn't wait to hit the beach.

"This definitely came at a good time," she said. "Work has been stressful. I really needed a break."

Netta Catrillo, 64, watched in amazement as her husband, James, slid down the "Leap of Faith," a 60-foot wonder set in a replica of a Mayan temple.

The couple still can't believe they are living a luxurious dream vacation.

"We thought, this is a good life," said James Catrillo, 57, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

Gail Velke has spent the last seven months recovering from open heart surgery. She called her son to say the tropical getaway had done more than all the pills and doctor visits.

"I'm cured!" she exclaimed.

Maki Becker, NY Daily News

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