Ride ‘Em, Cowboy at Passport to Paradise 2016
Wild West theme to raise funds for Boys and Girls Club, YMCA
By Kate Knight
The Boys and Girls Club of Portage County and Stevens Point Area YMCA will hold the 14th annual Passport to Paradise on Friday, Jan. 22.
The event is from 7 PM to 10:30 PM and will be held at SentryWorld, located at 601 N. Michigan Avenue. Tickets can be purchased online and www.bgclubpc.org or www.spymca.org and are $25 in advance and $35 at the door.
Passport to Paradise will feature a “Wild West” theme and include about 35 silent auction items, a home-cooked-style buffet dinner, dancing, cash bar, costume contest, 50-50 raffle and live music by country band Raised Reckless. The winner of the Wild West-themed costume contest will receive a $50 gift card to PJ’s restaurant at SentryWorld.
“Last year, just under 600 people attended the event, and we expect about the same this year,” said Brittany Melby, director of development and marketing at Boys and Girls Club of Portage County. According to Melby, turnout at the event has significantly increased – up from about 200 attendees in 2014.
Funds raised at Passport to Paradise will go toward youth programs at the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club. Among the variety of programs to be supported, some include Teen Night, Youth in Government, Girls Night Out, Adventure Program, Club Tech, Power Hour – a homework-help program, and reading programs for youth who struggle with or are learning to read.
“You can support so many kids in this county,” said Pete Matthai, senior director of youth development at Stevens Point Area YMCA. “We find that, for a number of kids, this is their home. They may not be in sports or other things, and some are, but it’s an opportunity to help the kids in the county that may need support. And it’s a fun event.”
Melby said the event is special because it supports youth programs in two community organizations. “You’re getting the best bang for your buck with this event – supporting two things at once,” she said. “And it supports kids who are the future of our community.”
A total of 25 community sponsorships and about 20 volunteers helped to make Passport to Paradise possible this year.
“We have thousands of volunteers that put in thousands of hours of service,” Matthai said. “A lot of people come in to talk to youth or help out. Hands-on involvement is important to the Y and Boys and Girls Club.”
Passport to Paradise was created 14 years ago when community leaders from the two nonprofit organizations met to discuss a partnership event. The Boys and Girls Club was a newer organization in the area at the time.
“They wanted to do a joint event because each serves very vital demographics in the community,” Melby explained. “These partnership events we work on together are cross-promotional, and we help each other out.”
“It’s a neat opportunity for each staff to work together, and we serve so many of the same kids,” Matthai said. “Being able to work together and bond is helpful.”