West Bend’s Charity Week will help fund a 9/11 memorial in nearby Kewaskum
By Grace Peplinski, Current Staff
The rumors were floating around school: Was West Bend really inviting Kewaskum to its charity dance? And was it because of low turnout in the past?
It’s true that attendance for the charity dance is significantly lower than that of homecoming, but according to Randy Reysen, a social studies teacher at West Bend West High, that was not the reason behind the decision to invite Kewaskum High School students to the charity dance this year. The motive was instead a charitable one.
The annual WBHS Charity Week is devoted to helping people throughout the local community by sponsoring a different charity every day. Charity Week this year will take place March 11-15, with the dance on March 16.
But what makes this year special is the charity for Friday and Saturday’s dance—all the funds are going toward a 9/11 memorial to be built in Kewaskum.
“In 1994, I graduated (from Kewaskum High School) with Andrea Haberman,” Reysen said. “Andrea then got a job in the financial district of Chicago that would take her to the Twin Towers. She was at the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. She died in the attack.”
A teacher from Kewaskum High School and Andrea’s parents were able to obtain a piece of a beam from the 9/11 ruins. It has been moved from place to place in Kewaskum as a memorial. Now, the community is coming together to raise money for an open air classroom that will also serve as a memorial to all those who died in the attack.
“(It would be) not just a Kewaskum memorial, but a Washington County memorial,” Reysen said. “And we’d create it so that it’s an open air classroom, a destination for people to go, and to reflect on what happened, maybe to reflect on loved ones lost, to reflect on the impact that that day has had on our country. Washington County’s invited, just bring your kids in on a bus, you could have a speaker. There’s going to be this small, open air amphitheater where you can lecture and do talks in the midst of this memorial.”
Because Reysen is a leader of the WBHS student council, a former classmate of Andrea and a teacher hoping to inspire students to honor those that died during the tragedy of 9/11, inviting Kewaskum to this year’s charity dance was all the more meaningful to him.
“Having myself been a 1994 graduate of Kewaskum High School, I thought, ‘I’m in a place where I can help raise the beam,’” Reysen said. “We give so much in charity and I thought it would just be nice if the ‘next door neighbor’ would help out. So in that spirit of cooperation, I wanted to invite Kewaskum to our dance. To give them an opportunity to give money for raising the beam as well. I think it would just be fun! Kind of like a community dance of two very similar school districts coming together.”
Though students were initially confused about the change to invite Kewaskum High School this year, many have come to see it as a positive change.
“I think it’s a nice gesture,” said Claire Young, an East junior. “It brings light to the subject.”
Along with the 9/11 charity, there is also another charity this year with special connections. Thursday’s charity donations will go toward Dr. Faustman’s Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is a non-profit that researches childhood diabetes. Brenda Henschel, an East Spanish teacher, has found a matching grant donor for this day because of her personal ties to this charity.
“I have donated to Dr. Faustman for several years now as my daughter, who will be ten on February 19th, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was only three and a half years old,” Henschel said. “ I have also had several students over the course of my teaching career who are living with type 1 diabetes.”
Type 1 diabetes, though the cause is unknown, can develop at any age, but it often develops in children, which is why type 1 is also called juvenile diabetes.
“It is an autoimmune disease and people with T1D have to continuously monitor their blood sugar 24/7 and inject insulin through injections like a shot or with an insulin pump,” Henschel said. “Those who live with T1D try to balance food intake with the correct amount of insulin.”
For those living with diabetes or for parents of children with diabetes, they are always trying to keep their own or their child’s body in balance. But the more we know about the disease, the more that can be done to help those living with it. So supporting Dr. Faustman’s research is a great way to help those with type 1 diabetes.
“All money raised will be used to help Dr. Faustman advance the Phase 2 clinical trial—which is now treating patients—to investigate the BCG vaccine as a type 1 diabetes reversal treatment,” Henschel said. “It will also help support related projects, such as research on pancreas function and human regulatory T cells, that allows us to better understand type 1 diabetes and ways to help people with this disease.”
West Bend High Schools Charity Week has always been a success, especially in the past few years. In 2018, both schools and their matching grants donated a grand total of $17,522. The hope is to raise even more this year and make an even greater impact on the local community.
Other charities featured this year will be March of Dimes on Monday, the Gingerbread House on Tuesday and the Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center on Wednesday.
(Top image: The Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial will be on Fond du Lac Avenue in Kewaskum. Photo by Grace Peplinski, Current Staff.)
(Edited to reflect changes to the planned schedule.)