Portage area residents can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and support the high school’s cross country team at the same time.
Kari Krakow, one of three cross country coaches for the Warriors, said a conversation with her neighbor gave her the idea to sell cloth face masks as a fundraiser for the team, which last year numbered about 75 students between grades six through 12.
“It just made sense,” Krakow said. “If you’re part of Facebook and Portage Strong, it just seemed like something that would bring the community together.”
Featuring adjustable ear straps, the washable masks made by BSN Sports are being sold for $10 each on CheddarUp.com. Though proceeds benefit cross country — paying for T-shirts, Gatorade and travel costs for the state tournament currently planned for October — Krakow noted the face coverings bear a generic Warrior motif suitable for anyone.
She said she was nervous to post about the fundraiser on social media given the negativity she often sees in comments. Community members, however, gave a “very positive” response.
“When we started, we thought ‘well, let’s just aim for 100 and if we have a bunch left over, we’ll just donate them to Portage schools, like to custodial staff or anyone who needs them,’” Krakow said, “and then in the first half hour, 45 sold.”
So far, the fundraiser has sold 182 masks. Krakow said the program will sell as many as people want.
Students aren’t involved yet — coaches can’t contact them until July, per WIAA’s COVID-19 rules — but Krakow hopes to recruit them next month to help. She said some team captains have arranged small groups to run together and she’s planning to give them packaged masks to deliver to Portage residents on their runs starting in July.
The cross country team also plans to hold its annual car wash and brat sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 22 at Festival Foods and Walmart, said Joe Pease, another cross country coach.
He said everyone he’s told about the mask fundraiser “has been super supportive, think it’s a great idea and just feel like it’s appropriate for this particular time that we’re going through in our community.”
He credited Krakow for coming up with it.
“We just felt like it would be kind of a cool thing,” he said. “We try to do, like, meaningful fundraisers, if that makes sense, and I guess at the time it couldn’t be any more meaningful than that.”
Editor's note: This story was updated July 7 to correct the company that is making the masks. They are made by BSN Sports.
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Follow Susan Endres on Twitter @EndresSusan or call her at 745-3506.
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