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Sauk Prairie relay team reaches $270,000 in funds for American Cancer Society

August 8, 2017 GMT

Over the past 16 years, Team Sauk Prairie Market – otherwise known as Team Ballweg – has been raising funds for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

The team has raised more than $270,000 largely without the help of corporate sponsorship. Mostly with the help of family, friends and acquaintances of the various team members, funds have come from bake sales and brat stands through the years.

“It’s kind of surreal; you don’t realize you are raising that kind of money until you look back,” said Kris Ballweg, secretary for the group.

The team surpassed the fundraising milestone during this year’s Relay event, held Aug. 4 at August Derleth Park in Sauk City. The fundraiser took on a new format this year that combined individual relays previously held in Sauk Prairie, Baraboo and Reedsburg.

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“We actually met our fundraising goal of $70,000 and surpassed it, ultimately bringing in $71,627,” said Camilla Jackson of the Sauk County Relay for Life. That figure could change once all donations are totaled.

Team Ballweg, one of the area’s most successful Relay fundraising teams, was organized in 2001, raising more than $3,500 with its first effort. “For us that was huge coming out of the gate our first time out,” Ballweg said.

Over the years the group has done different things to raise money for the Society, such as bake sales, holding a brat stand, and having a letter-writing campaign.

“Now here we are at 2017, having collectively raised over $270,000,” Ballweg said. “That’s huge for having bake sales and some letter writing.”

That’s not to say Team Ballweg hasn’t received anything from other community businesses. Through outreach, members have worked with other businesses to get products or services donated as part of the letter-writing campaign; for every $5 someone donates, their name gets entered to win a prize often donated from a local business.

“In past years we have had businesses like Wyttenbach Meats send us gift certificates, a dentist donated an electric toothbrush and the Lake Wisconsin Country Club has donated rounds of golf and a golf cart,” Ballweg said, naming a few.

They also bake cookies and sell boxes of the homemade treats for $20 each around the Christmas holiday. At three dozen per box, Ballweg estimates the team bakes as many as 9,000 cookies for the sale.

Individual team members have taken to baking pies around Thanksgiving to sell them, with profits donated to the Society as well.

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Ballweg said there are about 20 people on the Sauk Prairie Market team. “Everybody has their own reasons for getting involved in Relay,” Ballweg said. “For me, my mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor.” Other relatives also have been impacted by the disease, from colon cancer to having a Wilms tumor; of the most common cancers in children that start in the kidneys, according to the ACS.

Ballweg said the group has raised funds for other causes, such as Heroes for Honor, Bar Buddies, the Sauk Prairie Food Pantry, and the Sauk County Humane Society to name a few.

“But it seems our special focus at this time is the American Cancer Society,” Ballweg said.

Jackson said teams like the Ballwegs help the event reach its goal.

“I would say Kris and her team are exemplary of that type of team for Relay in that they are self-sufficient, driven and motivated,” Jackson said. “They take the mission of the American Cancer Society and align that with the fundraising they do.”

Jackson said Teel Plastics of Baraboo and Seats Inc. of Reedsburg also raised more than $10,000. She said every dollar raised helps Relay for Life get closer to its fundraising goal.

For now, Ballweg is proud her team raised more than $23,000 for this year’s Relay.

“My husband has a motto for the team,” Ballweg said. “He says if there are members who can’t do something this year to just ‘Do what you can.’ Maybe this time you can bake and next time you can’t. It’s all right and life does interfere with these things.’”

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