ATLANTIC CITY – January 1 is reserved for goal setting and swearing to do better after a holiday season of unnecessary indulgence.
Katee Blizzard, of Ocean City, prefers to reach fundraising goals Dec. 31.
As an Ocean City High School student, the former figure skater founded an ice skating fundraiser to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
The fundraiser is held annually on New Year’s Eve.
Blizzard will end 2013 the same way, with the sixth annual Skate for Wishes fundraiser, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 31, at the Flyers Skate Zone in Atlantic City. This year’s event includes a disc jockey, face painting, a raffle and ice skating. Five dollars from each $16 admission benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
What has changed over the years is the hours Blizzard spends between fundraisers devoted to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
In 2013, the hourly quota was high.
Blizzard is the philanthropy chair for the Chi Omega sorority at the University of Central Florida, where she is a junior pursuing an undergraduate degree in hospitality and event management major with a minor in nonprofit management.
Her sorority’s designated charity is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Blizzard is organizing a 5K run through her sorority to benefit Make-A-Wish.
From January to May 2013, Blizzard interned with Give Kids the World, a 70-acre nonprofit storybook resort in Kissimmee, Fla.
Give Kids the World allows children with life threatening illnesses and their families to stay in the resort at no cost. The resort partners with organizations that grant the wishes of children, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
When Blizzard started Skate for Wishes, she would invite her friends and see how much money she could raise.
Now, she’d like to pursue a career with Make-A-Wish.
The growing loyalty to Make-A-Wish hasn’t just affected Blizzard.
Other Skate for Wishes volunteers, including Ramapo College student Kasey Beatty, agreed the more involved she becomes, the more passionate she becomes about the Make-A-Wish cause.
Beatty will spend eight hours at Skate for Wishes on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
She started volunteering the second year the event was held. Beatty collected ticket money for raffles.
On Monday, she’ll help get the rink ready and assist the fundraiser’s customers. She helps regularly with the Skate for Wishes Facebook account.
“I feel the more people get involved the more passionate people get about it,” Beatty said. “We have a few people from high school who each year get a little more involved.”
As one of those people, Beatty can vouch for the increased passion.
Beyond Skate for Wishes, Beatty has also assisted with a golf outing to benefit Make-A-Wish, which was run by Beatty’s aunt.
“Because I’ve studied so much about nonprofits in general I’ve just learned that Make-A-Wish is so well organized,” Blizzard said. “Everything that they do, they do with their mission in mind and never stray from that and the fact that 80 cents on the dollar goes directly funding wishes is almost unheard of in any organization that is run today.”
This year, Blizzard is hoping for more than 300 people to attend, and to raise $5,000 at Skate for Wishes.
Through the 2012 Skate for Wishes, Blizzard raised $3,000.
That was the Skate for Wishes’ highest fundraising year, Blizzard said.
“It’s not just raising money. I like that they make the kids wishes come true,” Beatty said. “It’s fun. You’re not just collecting money and you don’t ever see it, you get to see the kids.”
In the last few years, Skate for Wishes received letters from Make-A-Wish, describing who the money raised is benefitting.
The last few years, Skate for Wishes raised enough money to grant a child’s wish, Beatty said.
Through the efforts of Skate for Wishes, one girl got to spend time with a Disney actor. Another went on a shopping spree.
The Skate for Wishes website describes the wish Cara, a 19-year-old, received through Make-A-Wish.
One year, Skate for Wishes’ proceeds helped fund Cara’s wish to go to Hawaii.
According to the website, Cara, who was diagnosed with lymphoid leukemia, always wanted to climb a volcano, visit the islands and go snorkeling.
She and her family traveled to Honolulu, where Cara took a sunset cruise around the island, went snorkeling, saw volcanos, and attended a tropical luau.
“It’s not just raising money. I like that they make the kids’ wishes come true,” Beatty said. “It’s fun. You’re not just collecting money and you don’t ever see it, you get to see the kids.”
Skate for Wishes is Tuesday, Dec. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Flyers Skate Zone in Atlantic City. Tickets $16 per person, with $5 from each admission benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey. Event includes a DJ, face painting, a raffle and skating.
For more information or to donate, see www.skateforwishes.com.