Cheese raffle set for Jan. 5

Andrew Cassiday looks forward to participating in track in spring with a special racing wheelchair.

A cheese auction next weekend will help a Savanna Oaks Middle School seventh grader participate in high school track and field in spring 2020.

Andrew Cassiday has Spina Bifida and uses a wheelchair. Paul’s Party, a nonprofit that raises funds for kids with physical disabilities, is hosting the event, from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 5 at the Wisconsin Brewing Company, 1079 American Way.

Proceeds from the cheese raffle will help him purchase a special racing chair and a throwing stand for shot put.

The raffle is open to the public and there will be free food sponsored by Sugar River Pizza. Emmi Roth donated the cheese for the raffle.

Attendees may buy a paddle to participate in the raffle and can win cheese, drinks and T-shirts.

Both of Cassiday’s brothers are runners, and he is looking forward to being able to compete in track and field at VAHS just as they did.

While he will compete in different races from those of other runners, he will still be on the same team.

Paul’s Party helps youth with physical disabilities afford sled hockey equipment, racing wheelchairs, adaptive bikes, summer sports camps, and other items that are more expensive for disabled kids than for able bodied kids. The nonprofit is in the midst of an initiative to find kids throughout the state to buy track gear for, so they can compete on their school teams.

Cassiday is currently a member of the Wisconsin Skeeters, a sled hockey team enabling youth and adults to play hockey sitting down in an adaptive sled. He also has played on the Mad City Badgers wheelchair basketball team.

Fitchburg resident Kathie Kiesau Natzke founded the charity in honor of her son, Paul, who also had Spina Bifida and died when he was 15 in August 2017. Paul, too, was a member of the Wisconsin Skeeters and the Verona High School track team.

“With some sports, you have to be on a team adapted for you, but the cool thing about the individual nature of track is that you can be a member of the regular team while competing in wheelchair events, which is an honor,” Natzke said.

Neal Patten, Verona Community Reporter, can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.