Annual fundraiser passes $250,000 mark

Easter Seals Wisconsin hosts annual Blizzard Blast
Annual fundraiser passes $250,000 mark

Bowling lanes are filled with players out for that perfect game.

The regulars hoping to take a load off line the bar with their cold brews in hand. 

Overall, Doubleday’s in Cottage Grove has long earned its reputation as a stop for those looking to have a good time and relax.

On this Saturday night, the night of Easter Seals Wisconsin’s annual Blizzard Beach event, the red and white balloons float in the banquet hall. 

Paul Karch and his daughter Rachel survey the tables at the edge of the room, all of them filled with silent auction items.

The two are arm-in-arm the entire time. 

Sometimes Rachel leans more heavily on her dad for support as he shows her the prizes and gauges her interest.


Paul is an Easter Seals Wisconsin board member. The position was prompted by Rachel attending a camp specifically aimed at accommodating different mental disabilities. She started going to the camp when she was eight years old, and at 26, she still attends the camp.

“I often say that it saved our family because Rachel has two younger siblings, a sister and a brother,” Karch said. “They’re grown up and gone now, but twenty years ago, they were young themselves. And they didn’t get much attention because Rachel took it all.”

Since he’s been on the board, Paul has helped raise money to expand Easter Seals Wisconsin’s camps. He said when Rachel started, the camps could only welcome about 15 campers. Now they can accommodate up to about 32.

Dale Nolden also came out for the Blizzard Blast event, bringing along his wife, young daughters, and 17-year-old son Austin.

Austin has Spina bifida, a neural tube defect that requires lots of care and special attention. 

The Nolden’s were driving him to a camp four hours away in Iowa until they discovered the Easter Seals Wisconsin camp, one targeted at helping those with physical disabilities.

“To be able to rely on someone else to take care of his needs that the average person can’t, you know, and to be able to trust them,” Nolden said. “That’s really nice.”

Thanks to the camp, Austin found his knack for and love of cooking. He said the Easter Seals camp is the best one he has attended.

In the 25 years that the Dane County Council of Snowmobile Clubs has hosted Blizzard Blast, the event has raised more than $250,000 for the organization.

Easter Seals Wisconsin helps about 10,000 people with disabilities and their families through the camping programs, as well as rehabilitation for farmers, respite service, self-employment services, and public education.

For more information about Easter Seals Wisconsin, visit their web site.