PWHS teams make their pitches in Kapco contest that asks local students to help others
Raising more than $12,000 for three charitable causes in less than a month isn’t easy, but it’s definitely rewarding.
That was the lesson learned by three teams of Port Washington High School students who launched whirlwind fundraising campaigns last month to benefit young cancer patients, homeless people and those struggling with mental illness as part of the Kapco Charitable Challenge.
“To see how much you can get done in less than a month when you put your mind to it is pretty amazing,” senior Bridget Collins said.
Emma Meyer, a junior, said, “It was very rewarding, but I think it gave me some premature gray hairs.”
The results of the challenge — the brainchild of Jim Kacmarcik, president of the Grafton metal stamping firm Kapco Inc. — will be announced on Nov. 16, three weeks after the Port High teams, as well as teams from Grafton, Cedarburg and Homestead high schools, made presentations about their campaigns to a panel of judges.
While the idea of outdoing rival schools was motivation enough, Port High students said, what really inspired them was the challenge of using $1,000 in seed money provided by Kapco to conceive, launch and follow through on campaigns that made tangible differences in and around their communities.
“We knew we weren’t going to end homelessness, but thought we could at least do our part to help people living on the streets,” senior Cordelia Larsen said.
Larsen was a member of the team that raised more than $4,000 to buy supplies for and package them in 250 drawstring bags to be given to homeless people. Students plan to distribute the bags at the St. Ben’s Community Meal site in Milwaukee.
For senior Katrina Trottier’s team, the challenge started with a bit of a debate. The team toyed with the idea of raising money to purchase Narcan, an antidote for opiate drugs such as heroin, for first responders to use to treat overdose victims, but shied away from it because of controversy surrounding use of the antidote.
Instead, the team raised more than $3,000 to benefit the Port Washington-Saukville School District’s focus on mental health. The money will help students who need counseling services but cannot afford them.
“We all know people who struggle with mental illness,” senior Olivia Biskobing said. “It’s personal for all of us.”
The third Port High team raised more than $5,000 to purchase stuffed duck toys through Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program for young cancer patients. Team member Izzi Wickus, a junior, was familiar with the program because its founder, Lu Sipos, was a former instructor at the gymnastics academy Wickus attended.
The team raised enough money to buy 170 ducks, which are designed to allow children undergoing cancer treatments to role play their way through situations that make them nervous. The stuffed animals will be donated to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa.
To raise more than $12,000 in less than a month, the students relied on crowdfunding through GoFundMe and collected donations at school events such as the homecoming football game.
“A lot of alumni contributed,” senior Brynn Greisch said. “Many of the donations came with messages that said they (alumni) were excited that kids were doing this and that they were proud to be Port High alumni.”
During their Kapco Charitable Challenge presentations, students also had to tell the stories of first responders who made differences in the lives of people in their communities. Among the stories recounted by Port High students were those of an Ozaukee County sheriff’s deputy who saved the life of a young woman who had overdosed on heroin and a Port Washington police officer who used a portable defibrillator to save a man’s life.
“This was pretty high-pressure given the amount of time we had but also because we really wanted to do something that made a difference,” Larsen said of the fundraising efforts.
Image Information: PRESENTING THE RESULTS of their fundraising campaign to a panel of Kapco Charitable Challenge judges in Grafton on Oct. 25 were Port Washington High School students (from left) Olivia Dimmer, Noah Mundt, Jack Larson, Olivia Biskobing, Katrina Trottier, Lyndie Krueger and Emma Meyer. The team raised more than $3,000 to subsidize the cost of counseling services for students who cannot afford them. Also involved in the challenge were two other Port High teams, whose members were Lizzie Egan, Izzi Wickus, Bridget Collins, Leanne Cook, Natalie Lippe, Jasmin Kiani, Jacob Liebergen, Tristan Shafer, Brynn Greisch, Cordelia Larsen, Kaylyn Garant, Sophia Dimmer and Chad Spaeth. Photo by Sam Arendt