Boyceville wins big with annual Coaches vs. Cancer event

By Cara L. Dempski

BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville school district has raised over $36,000 in six years for the American Cancer Society, and it’s all due to a pair of district teachers who wanted to try a new kind of fundraiser.

The Bulldogs’ annual fundraiser was held this year in conjunction with the Bulldog and Durand girls’ home game on February 16. 

Katie Ouellette, an early-learning instructor and middle school basketball coach at Boyceville, and head varsity basketball coach and first-grade teacher Jolene Bird discovered the “Coaches vs. Cancer” fundraiser in 2011 and decided it would be a fun way to honor former athletic director Bud Gilbertson.

The first year, the event was held in honor of Gilbertson, but each year since, the fundraising opportunity has just been called “Coaches vs. Cancer.” 

“It’s gotten bigger and better every year,” Ouellette said. “Our American Cancer Society representative told me we’re up over $36,000 raised total, so we’ll see how much this year brings in.”

The final tally was not yet available prior to publication, but the announcer at the girls’ basketball game, during which the event was held, said just prior to halftime that $4,500 had already been earned.

Coaches vs. Cancer features an evening of fun events held in conjunction with a Boyceville  girls’ basketball game. Ouellette explained the fundraiser is usually held the night of one of the Bulldogs’ February home games, and requires the cooperation of the visiting school.

“We have to rely on the other team being supportive of the event, because we take time-outs to do special things,” the event coordinator stated. “The other team really has to be on board.”

This year’s special events included a raffle and silent auction, concession stand and bake sale, a raffle for a 55-inch television, a “dash for cash” during time outs, a bean bag toss (prizes were a Kindle Fire tablet, pizza for a year from Jamie’s Buck-Shot Bar, and a $100 Action City gift card), and a three-point/half-court shooting contest that saw two people win pizza for a year from Stout Ale House.

Items in the silent auction and raffle were either handmade or donated from local families and businesses. There were even a few “Durand Panthers” shirts available in the raffle for fans of the visiting team on February 16.

Those in attendance could pay for tickets – anywhere from 50 cents for one ticket to $20 for 60 – which could be dropped into containers in front of each raffle item a person chose. People entered bids for the silent auction items on clipboards placed with each item.

There were also t-shirts for sale and bean bags for the toss could be purchased for $10 per bag.  All of the profits from the concession stand were donated to the American Cancer Society, as were the coins and dollar bills collected during a “Dash for Cash” where fans of both teams were asked to contribute pocket change or cash to the students racing around the gym with buckets. 

In all, Ouellette expressed her surprise and gratitude for the people of Boyceville, and those from visiting teams, for being such willing and enthusiastic participants in the event.