RACINE — Koos for Kids’ annual fundraiser for terminally ill or disadvantaged children is moving out of Racine for the first time in its nine-year history.
After years at Infusino’s, the Racine Marriott and, most recently, Festival Hall, the ninth annual Koos for Kids fundraiser will be held at the Milwaukee County Zoo June 23.
As in past years, the event will include dinner, a silent auction, raffles and appearances by Milwaukee Brewers players and coaches, according to Koos for Kids, a charity founded by Racine native and Brewers bullpen catcher Marcus “Koos” Hanel.
The move to Milwaukee is nothing personal, said Hanel, who still lives in Racine. Instead, it came down to logistics.
“The whole deal was to keep it in Racine, to bring this kind of stuff to Racine,” Hanel said. But “getting the guys to come all the way down here after a game – you know you play a game for how many hours and then you’ve gotta drive down like 50 minutes to get there and then afterwards most of those guys live in Hartland or Whitefish Bay, so it’s a long day. It was just a way of: What can we do to make it more convenient for the players?”
The Milwaukee zoo is near Miller Park, Hanel said, explaining that’s what made it a more attractive venue than Festival Hall, 5 Fifth St.
“It has nothing to do with Festival Hall in itself. I mean, they’ve been great,” Hanel said. “We’re like, ‘Man, this is a hard one to tell Rik we’re not going to be there.’”
Rik Edgar, executive director for the Racine Civic Centre, which includes Festival Hall, said he has no hard feelings and losing the fundraiser, which typically draws 1,000 people, isn’t a deathblow to civic centre venues.
Four new events are coming this spring and summer including the Belle City Brewfest and a bags/cornhole tournament, he said.
“We’re constantly looking for new things and we’re also working on a cultural series we’ll announce in the fall,” Edgar said. “Not to mention Post Prom has come back (to Festival Hall). Sometimes an event leaves and they return.”
Hanel doesn’t know if that will happen with Koos for Kids’ fundraiser. But he does know his charity plans to stay involved in Racine. For instance, Koos for Kids often gives winter coats to low-income Racine kids and also runs the Challenge Baseball League at Haban Park for children whose disabilities don’t allow them to play in a regular league.
Hanel does not disclose how much money the annual Koos for Kids’ fundraiser brings in. Tickets for this year’s event are $25 each and include zoo admission and parking. They go on sale April 15. More information can be found at koosforkids.com/events.