SHEBOYGAN – Hunting for a Cure is about to hold its annual event to raise money for the Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund for the sixth year.
A brat fry, raffle, silent auction and live music are all on the agenda for Jan. 19 at Laack’s Hall in Sheboygan Falls. The fundraiser also includes a rabbit-hunting contest.
Aside from standard hunting regulations, there are no limits on how far away participants can hunt, as long as they can make it back to Laack’s Hall to have their rabbits counted.
With 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund, the 17-member board organizing the event said they were able to contribute $35,000 last year. The event has grown since it was first hosted, when it raised $7,000.
Over the years, it’s collected $85,000 for the local organization, which supports cancer patients as they battle the disease.
Of the 1,200 to 1,500 people who attended the event last year, around 270 of them hunted. The rest came to enjoy the festivities.
But this year, the fundraiser is facing some opposition.
“I think a lot of the backlash comes from people who don’t support hunting,” said John Utech, who has been organizing the event from the very beginning.
Complaints from the public dubbed the event a “killing contest” and warned about the wasteful nature of this kind of activity. Vocal critics went as far as calling sponsors of the event, though none of them withdrew support.
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The board organizing Hunting for a Cure has been sure to cover its bases. There are regulations from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the event must follow, like a daily bag limit of three rabbits per person.
The DNR’s regulations are the same on the day of the event as they are any other day.
“In my five years that we’ve done this event, we’ve never had an issue with hunters going over their bag limits or hunting outside the DNR guidelines,” said Dustin Hoftiezer, who volunteered with the first two events and has helped plan each one since.
And the board takes extra care to prevent waste, partnering with a local butcher shop to give participants the option to donate their rabbits, which will be prepared and given to a food pantry.
While guns are part of the raffle, people don’t walk away with them that day. Winners still need to pass a background check.
“At the end of the day, we’re doing it legally and ethically,” Utech said.
“For a local organization like ourselves, we have a limited pool of donors,” said Tim Renzelmann, board member and vice president at the Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund. He said that’s why it’s important to have a variety of events to raise money.
Renzelmann is not a hunter, he said, but the event helps raise money to provide things cancer patients need. The organization has helped pay for rent, utilities, medications, wigs, insurance payments and even things like dog daycare.
Hoftiezer said, “It’s way more than just a rabbit-hunting tournament.”