Six weeks ago, Kristin and Brian Kellerman weren’t planning a cycling fundraiser.
Yet, on Saturday, Sept. 14, they were holding the first Bike for Opportunity at Verona Community Park – and it became a healing experience for them, Kristin told the Press.
The Kellermans’ son, Will, was a student athlete at Verona Area High School and donned the number “34” on the basketball team. Will always cheered for the underdog, she said. He died in November 2017 in a rollover car accident not long after his 21st birthday.
“When you lose somebody and you don’t have a cause to work for – especially as a mom, we put our whole lives into our kid, and then when that kid isn’t there, there’s this huge void,” she said. “So this event, this foundation, it doesn’t replace Will in any way, shape or form, but it does get us out of bed.”
In July, they were approached by friends Tim and Sandy Wolf, who asked if they’d be interested in putting on a biking event for their nonprofit, Opportunity 34.
The Bike for Opportunity event raised around $18,000 for the nonprofit, which provides scholarships for postsecondary education to students who have faced adversity in their lives. Around $4,000 of that was from Bike for Opportunity participants, Kellerman said, and the rest was from corporate partners who “believe in their cause.”
Bicyclists rode either a 17 or 34 mile route around Verona.
“To see over 100 participants when we put this on the map six weeks ago is remarkable,” she said. “It just continues to tell us that there’s something more that this foundation can do to help kids in our community.”
Kellerman said she hopes to expand the nonprofit to allow it to award scholarships that are renewable each year a student is enrolled at a college. As Will started to attend school at Milwaukee Area Technical College, she said she started to realize how steep the cost of living, including tuition, is for college students.
Creating a scholarship that was renewable would allow them to take the stress off of students for more than one year of their education.
“We’re not going to be a part of the policy,” Kellerman said. “But I have a big enough heart to at least help one or two kids.”