Columbus’ Zion Lutheran School raises $1,800 for Make-a-Wish child

November 22, 2018
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Students at Zion Lutheran School in Columbus hold up a sign spelling LUCAS, the name of a Columbia County boy granted a wish from Wisconsin Make-a-Wish Foundation to go to Disney World. Zion students helped raise more than $1,800 for the fundraiser.

Students at Zion Lutheran School in Columbus stepped up big time to help a local child’s wish come true.

Through the Make-a-Wish program, Zion students raised more than $1,800 to help Lucas, a local 6-year-old, fulfill his dream of going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. School administrators hoped students could raise at least $200. They far exceeded that goal in just one week of fundraising.

To celebrate the fundraiser’s success and show appreciation for the students’ diligent work, Zion hosted a raucous pep rally Nov. 16. Students packed the elementary school’s gym and were pleasantly surprised when the Lakeside Lutheran High School Marching Band arrived. The band bashed out several entertaining anthems, including “On Wisconsin,” “Sweet Caroline” and “Hand Clap.”

Students also took part in a raffle that included prizes from Culver’s, the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Wisconsin Badgers, Milwaukee Bucks and Admirals. The Madison Mallards invited Principal Alex Vandeberg to throw out the first pitch before a game next season with help from a few Zion students. In addition, the Milwaukee Brewers sent a letter thanking students for their “awesome” work to help a fellow student.

Most students were decked out in bright blue, Lucas’ favorite color.

Lisa Ravanelli, a Columbus parent, was moved to tears by the school’s generosity. Ravanelli’s son, Caleb, was also granted a wish to go to Disney World from the Wisconsin Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“Make-a-Wish did something so amazing for us that I wanted to do that to; give back to something that was such a great benefit to us,” Ravanelli said. “Just to see Caleb’s smile (at Disney World) was amazing. It really didn’t set in until Mickey Mouse crossed that stage and he got to fist-bump and hug Mickey, then I lost it. His face was bright and smiling and happy. We weren’t in a hospital room; we were outside and having fun.”

Ravanelli contacted the school about the fundraiser and teachers jumped at the opportunity. Students were also on board from the beginning, taking money from allowances to contribute. Organizers also held a Culver’s night Nov. 12, where portions of sales went to the program.

“I’ve dubbed Zion the little school with the big heart, because it truly is,” Ravanelli said. “They are just amazing, a great family to have around.”

There are 90 students in the K-8 school, so raising $1,800 in a week was no small feat. It’s the first year Zion has participated in Make-a-Wish.

“My heart is so full right now that they did this for Lucas,” Ravanelli said. “They went out of their way to do this.”

Jade Pekol, from Make-a-Wish Wisconsin, was more than pleasantly surprised by the students’ support.

“I work with a lot of schools and many of them will set a goal for $200 and reach that,” Pekol said. “But this is phenomenal.”

Ravanelli said there are more children in Wisconsin hoping to have a wish granted. Children in the Make-a-Wish program often deal with pediatric cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Even a small donation goes a long way.

“It can be something simple like a shopping spree,” Ravanelli said. “I encourage people to give to Make-a-Wish. It definitely meant a lot to my family.”

On Nov. 27, the organization will be part of #GivingTuesday. It hopes to raise enough funds to grant 30 wishes. For more information about Make-a-Wish Wisconsin, go to wisconsin.wish.org.

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