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Wednesday

April 2014

23

Oconomowoc Public Education Foundation haunted events net $114K to benefit schools

City of Oconomowoc - Who knew scaring people could be so beneficial?

Actually, there's nothing frightening about the fact that $114,000 was raised by the Oconomowoc Public Education Foundation (OPEF) through its "Haunted October" efforts last month.

A trio of events combined to raise the funds to support innovative educational opportunities in the local public schools.

Proceeds from the Haunted High attraction at the former Oconomowoc Middle School, combined with income from the third OPEF's Haunted Ball and the raffle of the Haunted Bus, set new records for the foundation as it enters its fifth year.

"We set out to make 2012 our best year yet, and we did just that, thanks to more than 500 volunteers, an amazing group of leaders and the support of sponsors and donors," said Mike Herro, president, OPEF board of directors.

"People came from across the Midwest to experience Haunted High, Haunted Ball expanded by 60 percent and the Haunted Bus raffle helped us top our fundraising record, all for the benefit of public education," he added.

In its fourth and final year, Haunted High welcomed more than 9,500 "victims" this year to the attraction that attained regional acclaim with rave reviews from haunt industry experts and area media.

An estimated 520 volunteers worked on the event this year.

Net proceeds from Haunted High alone were $95,000, a 106-percent increase over the first Haunted High in 2009.

"We've had a fantastic four years of Haunted High. It offered fun and fulfilling opportunities for students and adults to volunteer for a positive purpose, and we entertained nearly 35,000 visitors," said Haunted High project coordinator Tamara Hauck.

"It was great to establish it in the old middle school building and it is bittersweet to see it end now that the building has been sold," she added.

OPEF's Haunted Ball set records this year with 280 people attending the adult-focused costume fundraiser at Olympia Resort & Conference Center, up from 170 last year. Silent and live auction items, sponsors and table sales contributed to $16,000 in proceeds from the event.

The Haunted Bus raffle sold more than 1,000 tickets to buyers who took a chance to win the bus and a $2,500 paint job donated by ABRA Auto Glass in downtown Oconomowoc.

The winner, Greg Tiegs, plans to donate the bus to a youth organization in Northern Wisconsin. These Haunted October efforts are just part of OPEF's yearlong fundraising efforts to support its educational grants fund.

To date, the foundation has awarded more than $160,000 in grants to teachers for in-classroom programs.

The middle school will be renovated into loft-style apartments with construction beginning next year.

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