ATLANTIC CITY — Katee Blizzard, a 2011 Ocean City High School graduate and a student at the University of Central Florida, started a fundraising event as a high school sophomore because of a desire “to do something nice” during the holiday season.
The decision has shaped Blizzard’s choice of college major, the internships she selected and the sorority to which she belongs.
When she graduates, Blizzard hopes she will be able to professionally plan events for nonprofit organizations.
This influential event, now called Skate For Wishes, will be held this year from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, at the Flyers Skate Zone Atlantic City.
The fundraiser includes six hours of ice skating, face painting, raffle prizes and music by the radio station SoJo 104.9 FM.
Out of every $16 admission, $5 benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey, which grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses in the United States and its territories, according to the organization’s website.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded in 1980, and has its roots in an act of kindness two police officers showed toward a young boy diagnosed with leukemia.
According to the website, in the spring of 1980, U.S. Customs Agent Tommy Austin told Ron Cox, an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer, about his wife’s friend and her son.
Her son was 7 years old and wanted to be a police officer, but at the time, it was likely he was going to die of leukemia.
Cox and Eaves worked to make his wish come true.
The boy received a tour of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, received an old police badge and became an honorary officer.
By 2013, Make-A-Wish had granted the wishes of more than 226,000 children.
Through the event, Blizzard and the Skate For Wishes volunteers have raised enough money to grant several wishes.
According to Blizzard, money raised through Skate For Wishes sent one child to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, one to see a volcano in Hawaii and another to stay at Universal Studios and Nickelodeon Resort in Florida.
“That’s what really makes me want to do it,” said Kasey Beatty, a friend of Blizzard’s and a Skate For Wishes co-producer. “You actually see it’s doing something.”
Beatty, a business management major at Ramapo College of New Jersey, has worked with Skate For Wishes for several years. She is also a 2011 Ocean City High School graduate.
Beatty went to college interested in psychology, but her time working on Skate For Wishes persuaded her to switch to business management.
Her interest is in event planning.
Blizzard is a hospitality and event management major.
She is the philanthropy chair for the Chi Omega sorority, whose philanthropy is the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and has interned at several other nonprofit organizations including Give Kids the World and Junior Achievement of Central Florida.
She is currently a partnership coordinator for Knight-Thon, a dance marathon at the University of Central Florida with a fundraising goal of $500,000.
Now as college students, Blizzard and Beatty plan some of the Skate For Wishes in the short window between arriving home from school for winter break and the Dec. 31 event.
“It’s a little more rushed,” Blizzard said about event planning after finals. “I come back a little bit sooner (than Beatty), so I start doing all of the logistics of making sure the rink is prepared for everything, making sure the snack zone at the rink knows what’s going on, and then doing our checkups on all of the people who have donated before.”
Beatty admitted going to college has crunched the planners’ time, but added the effort is “well worth it.
“We don’t want to stop doing it,” Beatty said.
Beatty also aspires to bring the event to northern New Jersey.
This year, Blizzard said she expected 250 people to attend Skate For Wishes. She hoped to raise $5,000 at this year’s event.
“It’s like the perfect day. You get up, you go ice skating all day, you go out and you celebrate the new year,” Beatty said.
Tickets for Skate For Wishes can be purchased at the door. For more information or to volunteer, visitwww.skateforwishes.com.