Mardi Gras Gives High School Athletic Programs a Boost

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MTT News Desk's picture
Matt Geiger
Tickets for Mardi Gras are $50 in advance and $75 at the door.

Middleton High School has one of the premier athletic programs in the state. The Cardinal Booster Club aims to keep it that way, no matter how tight the school district’s budgets get.

Mardi Gras, the booster club’s annual fundraiser, will take place Saturday from 8 p.m. until midnight at the Marriott, 1313 John Q. Hammons Dr., Middleton.

Anjie Harris-Ostrem, one of the event’s organizers, said Mardi Gras serves as both a festive respite from the long winter and an essential yearly fundraiser for 28 different Middleton High School athletic teams.

Two years ago the booster club donated $114,000 to MHS programs, but that number was down to $110,000 last year. MHS athletic director Bob Joers said his department’s annual budget remains flat from year to year. As a result, the booster club’s role is growing increasingly important.

“Our budget stays the same every year, even though costs go up,” said Joers. “We appreciate the support of the district, and it certainly could be worse, like in districts where there have been large cuts to funding, but the fact is the Cardinal Booster Club plays a very important role for us at this point.”

“It’s just not the way it used to be,” agreed Harris-Ostrem. “The district doesn’t have money for everything that every sport needs.”

Students at Middleton High School take part in an eclectic range of athletic endeavors. Girls and boys both have high participation rates. MHS offers Cheerleading, Cross Country, Dance Team, Football, Golf (girls), Soccer (boys), Swimming/Diving (girls), Tennis (girls), Volleyball (boys), Volleyball (girls), Basketball (Girls), Basketball (boys), Gymnastics, Hockey, Ski & Snowboard, Swimming & Diving (boys), Wrestling, Baseball, Golf (boys), Lacrosse, Soccer (girls), Softball, Tennis (boys) and Track.

While the Cardinal Booster Club was initially assembled to purchase items deemed “non-essential” by the school district, that definition has been stretched in recent years. Supporters of student athletes say there is good reason to step up and help fill in the budget holes this year.

“Students who take part in athletics, or music or the arts – they all do better in school,” said Harris-Ostrem. “They learn life skills – things like how to manage their time. For some students it goes beyond that; for some students it provides a level of stability they don’t have at home.”

“When we hear stories about the ways athletics help some kids, it motivates us to work a little harder,” she added.

Last year, the Cardinal Booster Club started its “due diligence” program. It was designed to ensure students from all athletic programs volunteer in order to earn booster club funding. Student athletes work at concession stands and will even help set up for Mardi Gras on Saturday.

But they’ll be gone before the doors open for Saturday’s celebration, which offers a chance for adults to enjoy a few drinks, some food, prizes, music and more.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres and desserts will be served from 8 to 10 p.m., followed by snacks and pretzels from 10 p.m. until midnight.  There will be a cash bar, music and dancing.

The basket silent auction will end at 10:30 p.m., when the winners will be announced.  The Big Cardinal Raffle drawings will follow. 

A ticket will qualify an attendee to enter the Big Cardinal Raffle and win prizes such as a washer and dryer from American TV and Appliance, a trip to Sundara Spa in Wisconsin Dells, golf packages, a $500 gift card to Middleton Sports & Fitness, and other packages valued at $400 or more. (The ticket stub must be placed into the raffle the night of the event in order to win.)

In addition, each MHS athletic team provided a basket for the silent auction. The basket with the highest bid will earn an additional $500 for their team, former Harris-Ostrem said.

Tickets are available in the MHS athletic office, at the MHS Greeters’ Station during school hours, at Middleton Sports & Fitness, and through any coach.

Tickets are $50 in advance and $75 at the door. Fifty percent of the ticket is tax-deductible. Additional raffle tickets will be sold at the event for $20 per ticket.




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