Day 1 of the 2018 Packers Tailgate Tour wrapped up with a spirted party at Verona Area High School as more than 1,000 supporters of the Badger Prairie Needs Network filled the gymnasium to greet the tour group after they arrived via police escort from the Verona Police Department.
The Badger Prairie Needs Network (BPNN) is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty and ending hunger locally. In their 32nd year of continuous operation, BPNN operates a food pantry that serves Verona, as well as parts of Fitchburg and Madison.
Marcia Kasieta, BPNN’s executive director, is one of 400 volunteers who collectively worked more than 40,000 hours to serve 13,000 people, including 3,700 families. According to Kasieta, tonight’s fundraising, expected to be more than $100,000, will be roughly half of the organization’s budget for the year.
“It is huge,” she said. “The awareness is significant, too. It’s buzz we didn’t have before, which is great.”
Funds raised from tonight’s party will add to the nearly $2.3 million that has cumulatively been raised on the tour, now in its 13th year.
The event featured the now customary question-and-answer session, at which Mark Murphy was asked a first…has he ever seen the ghost of Vince Lombardi.
“I haven’t seen his ghost,” said Murphy. “But I do enjoy walking through his office in the Packers Hall of Fame in our Atrium.”
For Bubba Franks, it was nice to be back in Wisconsin.
“It was awesome,” said Franks. “It’s good to see the faces. Wisconsin is a different state…one and only. Fans do love you. They’re not pretending, you can see the look in their eyes. I’m rusty, but as the trip goes on, I’m going to be smooth-running machine.”
Wednesday will see the tour continue west into Iowa.