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Kraemer family golf event goes back years

August 12, 2018 GMT

You can hear it in his voice. Watertown’s Rich Kraemer cares deeply about the Make-A-Wish Wisconsin organization. It’s been a part of his family’s life for years, its value and meaning crossing generations from his parents to his daughter.

“I love it,” Kraemer said Thursday as he summarized the success of this past weekend’s Kraemer Cheese Golf Outing to benefit Make-A-Wish held at the Watertown Country Club.

The event raised in excess of $28,000.

“We have only family and friends participating in this outing,” Kraemer said. “We have no corporate sponsors.”

Make-A-Wish is in the business of making children with life-threatening illnesses happy by granting them their wishes to go to places they have dreamed about, or by facilitating meetings with their heroes.

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“Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses,” is the organization’s simple mission statement.

The Kraemer’s event attracted 128 golfers this year, with 215 people attending a related casual dinner.

Kraemer took time to discuss the origins of his Make-A-Wish golf event, noting it began 33 years ago with his dad and brothers in Green Lake. At that time, then later, beneficiaries included the MACC Fund and the Jerry Lewis telethon for Muscular Dystrophy. 2018 was the 24th year Make-A-Wish has been the organization to receive funds raised at the event.

“Make-A-Wish is a really good charity,” Kraemer said. “It’s one of the top five charities in the country. More than 80 percent of the funds they receive go to the charity itself, rather than to wages for staff. They are really nice people.”

Forrest Doolen, director of marketing and communications for Make-A-Wish Wisconsin, told the Daily Times it takes generous people like the Kraemer family and their golf outing participants to make wishes come true.

“The Kraemer Cheese Golf Outing has raised nearly $200,000 over the last 8 years,” Doolen said. “This has resulted in more than 40 Wisconsin children experiencing life-changing wishes that impact their emotional, mental and physical health, as well as making a significant difference in the lives of their families and their communities. We are deeply grateful for the Kraemers and their dedication to children who are battling critical illnesses.”

The Watertown Make-A-Wish golf outing raised $27,650 in 2017 and Kraemer called this year’s collection of well over $28,000 “mind-boggling.” Over its many years, in total, the event has raised well over a quarter of a million dollars for Make-A-Wish.

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One of the highlights of the event comes when the families who are participants in Make-A-Wish speak to participants at the golf outing. Kraemer said it is intensely moving to be around these people whose lives are deeply effected by often-terminal illness.

“When they talk, there is hardly a dry eye in the house,” Kraemer said.

In addition to the serious golf that is played at the event -- “This is not a scramble,” Kraemer pointed out -- there are putting and other contests, silent auctions and a raffle throughout the day. Most of the people who win the cash and other prizes donate at least a portion back to Make-A-Wish.

Kraemer noted there is an 80 percent retention rate from year to year in terms of participants. Fans of this golf outing are loyal.

“We truly appreciate our participants and sponsors,” Kraemer said. “This event only succeeds because of everyone being there. It’s such a fun event. We have no program, nothing is written down. My daughter and I just do it on the fly.”