SPASH volleyball continues impact with Diggin’ the Cause
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) volleyball program continued its fundraising efforts for local breast cancer patients, as it hosted the ninth annual Diggin’ the Cause event Thursday, Sept. 26.
The SPASH varsity volleyball team played Marshfield to close out the evening, which helped raise money for the Breast Care Fund at Saint Michael’s Foundation.
“It’s great that a community like this can all come together,” said SPASH senior captain Maggie Lawrynk. “At a normal home game, you would never see this many people out here.
“But at the Diggin’ the Cause game, there’s always a huge showing, so many people come out to support,” she said. “And it’s just a great event.”
“We were a little worried, the Packers playing on a Thursday night, but the turnout was outstanding,” said first-year SPASH volleyball head coach Molly Williams. “I have a fantastic committee that puts this on, led by Michelle Miklesh, and a group of senior parents who are just downright incredible.
“And what we do here every single year means so much to us,” she said. “And for myself to have been a part of it for the first one, and now here I am, eight years later, it’s really special.”
Williams was a junior and her sister Haley was a freshman on the SPASH volleyball team in 2011, when their dad John and fellow SPASH volleyball father Al Klein came up with the idea to start Diggin’ the Cause.
“They had seen a game like this and they wanted to put it on here, and really didn’t know what it would all entail, but I remember how outstanding it was that first year,” said Williams. “And then the next year, my mom herself was diagnosed (with breast cancer).
“So that makes this game so much more special to me every single year, because it was a really hard time in my life, and to be able to see a community that’s rallied around something, really added hope,” she said. “And I think that’s what this event truly does, it adds hope to this community, and we want to just continue to support it and help find a cure for this.”
Diggin’ the Cause organizer Michelle Miklesh said planning begins eight months in advance, as SPASH volleyball parents and players reach out to local businesses for donations to help raise money.
“When the teams are made in August, then it’s just crunch time and we go, and those girls work hard,” said Miklesh. “They get out to restaurants, the community likes to see the players out there and doing the footwork, so the players do a big part.
“We have a really good committee, and everybody else around too,” she said. “And we’re just lucky to have a really giving community.”
“Our girls fundraise a lot, they get into the businesses, and we rarely have somebody turn us away,” said Williams. “It’s a combination of businesses, and parents and teams who put together these (raffle) baskets and the restaurant raffle.
“Our community buys into this, and I think that’s what makes it so unique,” she said.
Pink T-shirts were sold for this year’s event, which started with the SPASH JV2 volleyball team playing at 4:15 p.m., and followed by the JV and JV3 teams playing at 5:30 p.m.
Raffles and a silent auction took place throughout the night, and a special program was held prior to the start of the varsity game against Marshfield at 7:30 p.m.
The SPASH varsity volleyball team came into the final game of the night unbeaten in the Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) at 5-0, and won two of the first three sets against Marshfield to take a 2-1 lead.
However, Marshfield came back and won 25-23 in the fourth set, and then won 15-8 in the fifth set to pull out a 3-2 win and hand the reigning WVC Champion Panthers their first conference loss this season.
“Hats off to Marshfield, because they played extremely well,” said Williams. “From the get-go, I didn’t really feel like we had the fire that I was hoping we would have had tonight, and obviously we’re disappointed.
“It’s our Pink Night, and we want to win,” she said. “But it doesn’t take away from what we did here tonight, and I made that very clear to them.”
The funds from Diggin’ the Cause stay local and go to support the Breast Care Fund at Saint Michael’s Foundation, and this year’s event was expected to bring the total amount raised over the last nine years to more than $100,000.
Miklesh said the money already raised this year going into the night of the event was enough to cover the cost of all of the free mammograms for a year as part of the Angel Fund at St. Michael’s Foundation, which ensures that every woman, regardless of insurance or ability to pay, receives an annual screening for their breast care.
“This is my fourth year doing it, and just being a senior in it, seeing the impact that it has, raising so much money, really is just incredible to see,” said SPASH senior captain Maddy Dokken of Diggin’ the Cause. “That a small town in Wisconsin can do so much for something that has affected so many people.”
“It just says a lot about our community, and what these girls want to work for,” said Miklesh. “What makes it special to me is, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and my grandma all have had breast cancer.
“And I think everybody has a story, but for me, that’s the driving force for it,” she said. “But this just benefits so many people, that’s why my heart and soul really goes into it.
“And I want to say thank you to the committee and to our wonderful coaches and teams,” she said. “But especially to our community, which always answers when we come calling.”