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Ashwaubenon Optimist Club Honors High School Participants

By Murray Gleffe, Correspondent

ASHWAUBENON-The Ashwaubenon Optimist Club recognized eleven swimmers (Hannah Vanderheyden, McKenna Bartelme, Ashlee Vyskocil, Katherine O’Connell, Hallory Domnick, Emma Steffel, Julie Clabots, Kyra Goedken, Sydney Popp, Evelyn Guerts, and Maddie Leisgang) and one cross country runner (Sage Wagner) Friday morning (Dec. 8) at the Holiday Inn on Ramada Way for their accomplishments on the athletic stage.

The morning started with each swimmer and cross-country participant talking about their state experience, and what a neat time they had with their fellow teammates in Madison and Wisconsin Rapids respectively.

Assistant Swim Coach Dr. Bob Cavanaugh and Head Cross Country Coach Cal Kromm talked about how meaningful their students are not only in sports, but how they impact the classroom and community of Ashwaubenon.

Jeremiah Merchant (President) and Mike Skiffington (Spokesperson) lead the club and have built the organization into a truly memorable one.

Besides the breakfast recognition program for state athletes, the program covers the Special Olympic Summer Games which has grown to enormous numbers the past five years.

In addition, the Optimist Club supports athletes that may be struggling to pay a fee or buy expensive equipment.

“It is truly meaningful to see an athlete participate in a sport that maybe wouldn’t have otherwise been able to make a go of it,” said Merchant. “We want sports to continue to grow in Ashwaubenon. You make so many long-lasting relationships with friends and coaches.”


The Ashwaubenon Optimist Club also offers assistance within the community of Ashwaubenon.

A few of the programs that Merchant and Skiffington have aided include the music program, oratorical contest, destination imagination, supporting PBIS at the elementary schools, prom party assistance, music in the park (Pioneer), provide labor at the Ash Blast, adopting a needy family at Christmas, 100-hour Community Service buffet, and providing food in a Back-Pack Program.

Adopting a needy family at Christmas was illustrated just this past week for the team. A mother came to Skiffington and illustrated how she was going to buy presents this year for her three kids.

“The kids were told there would be nothing under the tree this year,” said Skiffington

The Optimist Club stepped up and provided that opportunity for the family.  

 Students are also rewarded when they volunteer 100 or more hours during their four years of high school with a breakfast, and a plaque commemorating them on a job well done within their community.

“I think the students that go above and beyond with the service hours reap the rewards of the people they help out,” said Merchant.

One Friday a month, the group provides two backpacks filled with food to families in need.

It goes a long way in helping them cover the cost of groceries, and to be able to have something healthy over the weekend.

“Our big fundraiser is Oktoberfest where we park cars at Packer Games,” added Merchant. “It goes a long way in giving us the funds to provide as many groups possible the financial assistance they need.”

In June, the club will provide eight $500 scholarships to students at graduation.

As you can see Merchant, Skiffington, and all of the members of the Ashwaubenon Optimist Club have provided many families and students with a giving hand not only during the Holidays but during the course of the entire year.

They should be commended for making a ‘huge impact’ within the community of Ashwaubenon!


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