Bikers raise money to make sick children's wishes come true
Lily Schey loves princesses.
The five-year-old Wadena girl has been hanging out with them all week at Walt Disney World thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a group of Wadena bikers who raise money to send local kids with life-threatening conditions (and their families) on dream vacations.
Schey, who suffers from arteriovenous malformation - a tangle of blood vessels without the capillaries necessary for proper blood flow - is among 21 children Kruzin 4 Kidz has sponsored since it launched it 2006.
"It's the community that makes this happen," said board member Randy Atchley. "If every person in a 50 mile radius donated 25 cents, every kid every year could be taken care of."
The average wish costs $6,500. This year, because there are six children in the area eligible for a gift, the group is aiming to raise a record $39,000.
"We'd like to be able to do even more," Atchley said. "We always shoot for a little better every year. Whatever we can bring in is going to the kids."
To raise money, Kruzin 4 Kidz sells T-shirts, hoodies and tanktops and $5 raffle tickets. It also holds several annual events.
This year's free-will donation pancake and sausage breakfast will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mother's Day at the Wadena Elks Lodge. The group will hold a garage sale on June 28 and 29. Kruzin 4 Kids will hold its main fundraiser on August 16. The group's 9th annual motorcycle ride will leave from the Elks at noon. The 116-mile loop includes stops in Huntersville, Nimrod and Sebeka. After the ride, both bikers and non-bikers are invited to the Elks for a pork loin dinner (tickets are $10), which will be followed by a silent auction, raffle drawing and live music.
Wadena's Whiskey Creek Saloon is among the local businesses that's helping sell raffle tickets. Owner Matt Wedde said many of his customers have been eager to help out.
"That's good to see," he said. "It's nice to see that it goes to a local family."
Even without Kruzin 4 Kidz help, sick kids in the area would likely still get their wish, but by sponsoring kids with local funds, the group frees up the Make-A-Wish Foundation to award its 180 annual Minnesota wishes elsewhere in the state, Atchley said.
"We try to pay for the ones in our area so they have more money for more wishes," he said.
For more information about the organization, see photos of past events or to buy Kruzin 4 Kids products, check out www.kruzin4kidz.com.