“We need every push we can get right now,” says Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson after spending the night sleeping on the rooftop of Fiskars Brand Inc. in Middleton where he will stay until he can finish raising $500,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. “We’ve been fundraising for this since April. Right now, we’re at $439,000. We pretty much have about $60,000 left to raise.”

Johnson is camping out (but not camping camping; he still has his electronics) on an air mattress and a little tent and will be once again sleeping on top of the parking structure at Fiskars. He’s going to stay there until he reaches his fundraising goal.

“I was a little bummed that yesterday we only got 85 donations; we were shooting for 125,” Johnson tells Madison365. “Today, I’m hoping for 150 to make up for what we didn’t do yesterday.”

The two days leading up to the 15th Annual Bike for Boys & Girls Club are crucial for last minute donations, registrations and securing volunteers. Local celebrities will be out in force today and tomorrow at Fiskars to help the Boys and Girls Club reach the finish line in these next 48 hours by getting in the dunk tank and the human hamster ball wheel.

What’s a human hamster ball wheel, by the way?

“The human hamster ball – they also call it Zorb-ing – is where an individual goes into the big plastic ball and they race each other down a track,” says Zandra Hagberg, director of marketing & special events at the Boys and Girls Club. “Alders Maurice Cheeks and Matt Phair will be racing each other tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Leigh Mills and John Stofflet will be racing each other in the hamster ball today at 2:30 p.m.”

Boys and Girls Club of Dane County's Human Hamsterball Race
Boys and Girls Club of Dane County’s Human Hamsterball Race

Johnson says that he is enjoying fundraising at Fiskars, which has been the biggest team in the Bike for Boys and Girls Club for the last three years. “They registered 180 people for this ride this year,” Johnson says. “I think we’ve already set a record for the ride overall – we already have 1,100-plus riders participating in this event. Usually we get about 50-100 people [in the last couple of days] so we’ll have about 1,2000 people participating in this ride and, hopefully, we will exceed $500,000.

“Let me take that back … We will exceed it because I’m not going to leave Fiskars until we do,” Johnson adds.

“This year, there’s an 8-mile, a 20-mile, and a 50-mile biking route,” Hagberg says. “The 50-mile starts at 8 a.m., the 20-mile starts at 9 a.m. and the 8-mile starts at 10:30 a.m. We are really excited for the event this year. It’s the biggest one yet.

Zandra Hagberg, Director of Marketing & Special Events
Zandra Hagberg, Director of Marketing & Special Events

The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County is supporting Dane County’s youth through extensive and focused programming this summer in both of its clubs and throughout the community including employment, internships, summer camps, healthy meals, weekly field trips, the Gilbert Brown Foundation’s summer football camp, Badges for Baseball, a reading challenge, music, swim lessons and more.

“Everything has been going really well this summer,” Johnson says. “The summer camps are going really well and most everything we’ve put in place has gone as planned. We’re on pace to build a brand-new dental clinic and to put a brand-new kitchen into our location. We are going to hire a full-time dentist that will work through More Smiles Wisconsin.

Madison Mallards baseball players raise money for Boys and Girls Club this morning in the Fiskars parking lot trying to sink Michael Johnson in the dunk tank.
Madison Mallards baseball players raise money for Boys and Girls Club this morning in the Fiskars parking lot trying to sink Michael Johnson in the dunk tank.

“We’re so close right now. There’s no reason to not exceed this goal,” Johnson adds. “With all of the stuff that we have planned today and tomorrow and all of the celebrities that are coming out. I’m really a little disappointed that the governor [Scott Walker] didn’t accept my offer to come out. If he would have came, we would have made a million dollars. They told me he was thinking about it.”

Johnson encourages people to stop on out today to Fiskars Brand, Inc., 7800 Discovery Drive in Middleton. At least to get a donut – Hurts Donuts and Greenbush Bakery have donated donuts to the cause. “We need volunteers, we need donations … and if people want to ride, we still have room,” Johnson says. “We want to get this done for our kids.”

For more information on how you can do this, click here.

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.