Blake Rickert Fundraiser Sets Blueprint for Low-resource Organizers

Donations triple expectations during auction event

Help Blake Beat Burkitt's

Gallery photos by Brett Williams and Willy Street Blog 

 

Nearly three months ago, when organizers started planning the Help Blake Beat Burkitt’s fundraiser, they never thought they would nearly triple their even most ambitious monetary goal. But thats what happened when approximately 200 people packed the Atomic Koi in Fitchburg for four hours Sunday (April 27) and raised through a silent auction, raffle and donations $13,591 to help offset the cost of 4-year old Blake Rickert’s successful treatment of Burkitt’s Leukemia.

The star of the event was Blake himself who got permission to leave the hospital for a few hours to attend the fundraiser. Despite fighting an illness all week, he was all smiles as he connected with friends and family and was fascinated, as were all the kids in attendance, by the “Balloon Guy”, who fashioned balloon figurines. Other kid favorites included face painting by Blake’s Aunt Stacy Laufenberg Schmidt and temporary tattoos of the “SuperBlake” logo.

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Help Blake Beat Burkitt’s Leukemia This Sunday

Fundraiser for a boy who beat leukemia but needs help beating bills

1899955_272627359567181_877352916_nI first met 4-year old Blake Rickert at a birthday dinner for his mother about a year ago and I was impressed with his undying exuberance even though he was the only child amongst ten other adults.

I would see this precocious young man at other friend gatherings from then on, playing with toys that boys often find interesting like trucks and large construction equipment. This fellow has more texture than that as I’m told he also likes gardening, shoveling, and of course, superheros. Just about every superhero needs a sidekick. With the evil foes Blake has been fighting so far in 2014, he is looking for his Robin (Dick Grayson for purists).

It was earlier this year that Blake was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia, a rare form of cancer that is aggressive (growing in size every 14 hours) but also highly treatable. Since January he has been undergoing an aggressive treatment protocol at the American Family Childrens Hospital with very encouraging results. Recently Blake’s mother Jill announced that a bone marrow biopsy found no leukemic cells and all the tumors are gone.

I guess he has earned a newly bestowed moniker: Super Blake

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Kids Find Easter Treasure in Orton Park

Over 40 children scour the park for candied delights during 17th annual hunt

Examining their loot after the bing, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

Examining their loot after the big, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

We could call this the first real day of spring when sunshine, temperatures, and firm soil all collaborated to provide great conditions for the 17th annual Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.

Over 40 children and their families gathered mid-morning Sunday (April 20) to share food and race across the park to find plastic eggs filled with all the things kids like in an egg, various forms of candy. Organized this year by Meghan Blake-Horst and Lynn Lee, the gathering harkened back to earlier neighborhood events that were smaller and more organic.

Annette Hansen, one of the egg hunt originators adds a little history event a few weeks after this post was published:

“The Spring egg hunt was started by Karen Lentfer and myself years ago when our children were small, as a celebration of Spring. The kids would design fliers and hand them out to families living near the park and they in turn would share the event with friends. Older kids help the younger children – some years in sunshine, others in rain or snow. It evolved to include a potluck brunch allowing neighbors to get re-acquainted after a long winter. In more recent years, as Karen and my children got older, Georgia Corner’s children helped with drawing and distributing fliers. Now more families with younger children are carrying on what has become an expected tradition.”

This summer’s festivals are still a can’t-miss, but today’s event was just nice, uncomplicated, unamplified, chaotic fun. See the gallery below for images of the hunt.

Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt 2014

Central Park Sessions Concert Series Approved

Parks Commission gives go ahead for three concert dates in July and August

Central Park took shape over the summer and fall and may host neighborhood festivals again.

Central Park during initial construction last summer.

It is not the first time music events have been held in Central Park, La Fete de Marquette was held there in the years when it was first designated as a park, but newly announced summer concerts will mark a milestone. It will be the first organized music events since construction began to convert the space into the vision long held by the city and boosters.

That vision will continue to evolve, but since ground was broken last summer an artful restroom facility has been completed and large amounts of dirt has been moved to create small undulating mounds that are wrapped paved paths and punctuated by benches that are so new they are still wrapped in plastic.

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Lapham Kids Retreat to Cargo Coffee Following Suspected Gas Leak

150 kids given refuge during a temporary evacuation of the school

The entire main floor was teeming with 200 Lapham four year-olds and kindergarteners following a temporary evacuation of the nearby school on April 2, 2014.

The entire main floor of Cargo Coffee (seen here during its grand opening) was teeming with an estimated 150 Lapham four year-olds through first graders following a temporary evacuation of the nearby school on April 2, 2014. -File photo

Lapham Elementary School Staff noticed a natural gas smell in the building around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday (April 2) and a precautionary evacuation was ordered. With approximately 250 children in the school, the nearby Salvation Army building did not have enough space to accommodate the entire school population.

Enter Cargo Coffee East, which just opened in February. Co-owner Lynn Lee (with brother Lindsey) said he received a call from the school asking if they could take some of the overflow. Lee’s daughter Addison is a student at the school and he readily invited the students over. The coffee shop is a veritable educational refuge since the entire east wall of the shop features a large mural depicting a map of the world that was created by Lee who is also an artist.

Approximately 150 students and 25 staff (kindergarten, first grade and four year-olds) were sent to the shop and Lee said he had to “hurry over” to move existing customers to the balcony to accommodate the arrivals. The evacuation lasted half an hour, but Lapham Principal Tammy Thompson Kapp said to Lee in an email that the district is considering adding Cargo East to its evacuation plans. Lee says Cargo will have a written policy for employees to follow should the site be needed again.

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