Blake Rickert Fundraiser Sets Blueprint for Low-resource Organizers

Donations triple expectations during auction event

Help Blake Beat Burkitt's

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Donation jars at the ready for the Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser. Bartenders also donated their wages and tips. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Mac and Cheese was loved by all, donated by Noodles & Company. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's T-shirts were very popular. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Even the Atomic Koi worked to provide a welcoming atmosphere. Photo by: Brett Williams
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The calm before the silent auction storm. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Organizers fly about preparing for the Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake's aunt Stacy Laufenberg Schmidt painted faces for the cause. She was quite busy. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake (right) with his father Kevin and cousin (left). Photo by: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake Rickert who is also known as "SuperBlake" for the way he has endured his treatment by smiling through it all. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake and father Kevin (left). Photo by: Brett Williams
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A WKOW-Madison reporter works on a report about the Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Balloon guy was only second in popularity to Blake. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Lead organizer Kristina Miller won praise for her work in planning the event. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Reflections on a great effort by the organizers Caitlin Waldhart and Kent Miller. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Blake Rickert with his grandfather (right) and an unidentified family member. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Atomic Koi organizer Hawk Sullivan likened the pace strength of the crowed to New Years Eve. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Organizer Kent Miller models a Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser t-shirt. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Organizers Kris Prusynski (left) and Brett Williams (right) with an attendee. Photo courtesy: Brett Williams
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Photo by: Brett Williams
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Kevin Rickert. Photo by: Brett Williams
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Caitlin Waldhart prepares a UW Tailgate Experience auction package for display.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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The fully stocked beer cooler bid sheet was well-trafficked.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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The Atomic Koi party on through the afternoon.
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Gold with Bob Lindemeier fetched $300
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These custom cupcakes from Cupcakes-a-go-go were go-go-going and gone within an hour.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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A young attendee is entranced by the Atomic Koi.
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Blake's mom Jill Rickert.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Stacy Laufenberg Schmidt pressed her daughter into service at the t-shirt, bracelet and tattoo table.
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Brett Williams and Kevin Rickert.
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Some bidders phoned a friend.
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Blake Rickert.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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Patrick Rogne was tireless as a greeter at the entrance, doling out door prizes and managed to distribute two difficult items: Two patio umbrellas.
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Help Blake Beat Burkitt's Fundraiser auction item.
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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.

What is interesting about the effort is that the committee of around eight to ten people reached out to businesses they knew as well as drafting a simple fundraising letter to send when cold calling those businesses and organizations they didn’t.

The silent auction area was crowded all afternoon.

The silent auction area was crowded all afternoon as bidders vied for entertainment packages, Coach bags, sports memorabilia, or golf with local meteorologist Bob Lindemeier.

Seeking a few big ticket items as well as lots of smaller gift certificates, the committee grouped the items into packages tailored for a wide range of budgets; because frankly disposable income is still hard to come by just a few short years after the great recession.

“A total of 165 items, including food were donated from about 105 local businesses and  34 individuals and families.” said lead organizer Kristina Miller.

Many of the attendees were friends and family and just about all the auction items were snapped up. The remaining were distributed through a raffle which featured quite a few good prizes as well. Prior to the event, a fund at Associated Bank had been collecting donations all along.

Helping the fundraiser outperform expectations was Atomic Koi owner Hawk Sullivan who also served on the planning committee. In addition to providing the space, Sullivan also pledged that all money collected through bar sales would go straight to the Rickerts, donating the cost of labor and product dispensed.

In addition, the processing fee for all credit card transactions from drinks and to process payment for the auction items was absorbed by Sullivan. He was assisted behind the bar by his wife Natasha and employee Saul Castillo (who also participated in the planning). The Sullivan’s and Castillo donated their wages and all tips to the cause.

Blake Rickert with his grandfather (right) and an unidentified family member. Photo by: Brett Williams

Blake Rickert with his grandfather (right) and an unidentified family member. Photo by: Brett Williams

In characterizing the crush of people at the event, Sullivan remarked that the bar was so busy it was “like New Years Eve”.

While not all benefits in the future may have access to a facility owner who is willing to host an event on such generous terms; the effort serves as a blueprint for others who may not have deep connections or large budgets.

The key ingredient for the success of this event seemed to pivot on the passion of the Rickert’s friends and family as they focused hard on planning and maximized their resources. Blake has stayed focused too. He as just one more maintenance treatment to go and prospects are good that he will remain cancer-free in the future.

The HBB fund, which can accessed at any Associated Bank branch, is still accepting donations;  just reference the Blake Rickert Fundraiser. Checks can be made payable to “Blake Rickert Fundraiser.”  Receipts available upon request.

 

Related: Help Blake Beat Burkitt’s Leukemia This Sunday

 

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