Wisconsin Rapids (OnFocus) – Community-oriented charitable promotions and fundraisers took center stage this year at Historic Witter Field. During a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters were able to uphold a strong sense of community by donating over $25,000 to local organizations and nonprofits.
The 2020 season was kicked off with a drive-thru Community Experience on May 1st. The Rafters, in partnership with its nine Founding Partners, Furniture & ApplianceMart/Ashley HomeStore and Thrivent Financial, brought the community together with an experience for the whole family. The event hosted booths for local businesses and organizations with an opportunity for each car to leave a thank you message for essential workers. There were 317 cars that attended the event, raising a total of 60,000 meals that were donated to Feeding America and 1,600 pounds of food to SWEPS.
The Rafters teamed up with McCain Foods, a partner since the inaugural season, to help fight local hunger through Feeding our Communities with United Services (FOCUS). Three organizations that fight hunger in the Wisconsin Rapids area, SWEPS, The Neighborhood Table, and Rapids Family Backpacks, merged to form the new nonprofit. For every order of McCain Foods smile fries sold at the ballpark, McCain Foods donated $1 to FOCUS. Donations reached a total of $100 during the 2020 season.
The Rafters also held three specialty jersey auctions throughout the 2020 season. The first was Mid-State Technical College’s Blackout Jersey that helped benefit the Mid-State Foundation. The next jersey was Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa’s Military Jersey that benefited the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. The final jersey was Advanced Disposal’s Retro Pinstripe Jersey where proceeds went to the Wisconsin Rapids Boys & Girls Club. In total, the Rafters were able to donate over $5,500 from the three specialty jersey auctions.
In conjunction with Mid-State Technical College, the Rafters also held the Lil’ Rafters Reading Program in which young Rafters fans could win two free tickets to a game for meeting their reading goals. While the end of school looked different this Spring, the Rafters were still able to bring out 324 students and their families to the ballpark.
On July 20th, the Rafters highlighted Current Technologies Storm Remembrance Day, which brought the community back to the terrorizing storm on July 20, 2019. For every ticket sold to this game $1 was donated to Brian Ortner’s Spinal Recovery Fund. The Rafters were able to sell out the game, but due to the limited capacity of the 2020 season (650 fans) the Rafters rounded up the total to make the donation $1,000.
Further benefiting local organizations, the Rafters hosted charitable promotions correlating to on-field success. For every strikeout by a Rafters pitcher at home, Parkwood Eye Care K’s for Kids donated $1 to an area little league team. In total this season, the Rafters pitching staff struck out 271 batters at home.
After the conclusion of the 2020 season, the Rafters put on a show with Derek Jones and special guest Southbound with a benefit concert. All General Admission proceeds went to the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. The event raised a total of $3,868 to contribute to B’s Tap House in their effort to fill up a full plane that will fly veterans to see the memorials that stand in their honor.
The Rafters partnered up with the Northwoods League Foundation and Rawlings once again for the Share the Glove grant. The grant provided over $2,000 worth of gear to a local team. This season the grant was given to Auburndale softball.
Numerous donation bags were also provided throughout Central Wisconsin to non-profits and other organizations in efforts to help raise money.
The Rafters would like to thank all corporate sponsors and the Central Wisconsin community as a whole for all the continued support during the hardships of the 2020 season.
The Rafters front office will be open Monday through Thursday from 9:00am to 4:00pm at Witter Field, 521 Lincoln Street in Wisconsin Rapids. For more information you can visit Raftersbaseball.com or call 715-424-5400.
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