The Highground Hosts Annual Recognition Banquet


Over 130 Highground donors were invited and honored at the annual “Friends of The Highground” dinner that was held on March 13, 2021 at Castle Hill Supper Club near Merrillan, WI. Given the financial and emotional challenges of the pandemic, these supporters and many others helped The Highground through a very difficult year. Those in attendance enjoyed a wonderful meal, camaraderie and an entertaining program. This annual dinner is a way of thanking those generous donors who support The Highground and Camp Victory through cumulative annual donations in excess of $1,000. Information about upcoming 2021 events were on display along with details regarding The Highground Rising Capital Campaign which launched on April 8. 

Chris Pettis, Executive Director, welcomed everyone and introduced the staff and board of directors. Chris then explained the meaning behind the “Missing Man Table”. Board of Directors members Bob Barth, Michele Benson, Don Quicker and Gary Weirauch each read a selection of Wisconsin Fallen names from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Iraq and Afghanistan through present day. An invocation was given by long-time volunteer and contributor Jerry Smith from Neillsville, WI. Many board members were in attendance to thank the donors as each donor was presented with a beautiful certificate depicting the National Native American Vietnam Tribute. 2020 was the 25th anniversary year of this national tribute. 

This is the 17th year The Highground has formally recognized the supporters who reached the $1,000 minimum donation. This year, donors and board members from all around Wisconsin and Illinois were able to attend. Three of them have received all 17 plaques—Thank you Central WI Broadcasting, WCCN/WKPG, Donald Quicker, and Dr. John and Rebecca Scaletta. They have not missed a single year of support to The Highground since this recognition was implemented.

From the 2020 donor calculations, the following received recognition for their continued support:

17th Year Recognition

Central WI Broadcasting
Don Quicker
Dr. John & Rebecca Scaletta

16th Year Recognition

Joan Jungwirth

15th Year Recognition

Randy Meyer
Jerry Simon
Jerry & Alice Smith

14th Year Recognition

Joan Cervenka
Marjorie Short

13th Year Recognition

Marguerite Listeman Foundation
Walter Tollefson
Tom & Anita Werthman

12th Year Recognition

City of Neillsville
Jim & Susan Fox
Jakel Plumbing, Heating & Electrical
Gary Karczewski
Mar-Lin VFW Post #10203

11th Year Recognition

Jim Braatz
Hardee’s Cougar Enterprise
Michael & Joyce Huebsch
CW & Mary Ann King
Wes Waterman

10th Year Recognition

Dennis & Sharon Herzberg
Joyce Hoffman
Steve & Karen Maddox
Dave Sharretts
Lucinda Zimmer

9th Year Recognition

Citizens State Bank of Loyal
Michael & Kathy Gleisner
Skip & Deb Klabon
Mike Olson
Steve Swanson
Gary & Kay Weirauch

8th Year Recognition

Robert & Gloria Beyer
Curt Braatz
James Feneli
Bill & Kathy Flemal
Kathy & Bernie Heit
Verla Lysy
Cole Peterson
Joel & Marla Raine-BP Drescher Oil 

7th Year Recognition

Michele Benson
Chilson Automotive Group
Julie Diesing
Kimberly Knudsen
Paul Kokosz
Nick & Janet Lesar

6th Year Recognition

Lee & Kathy Anderson
John Blank
Roy & Ginny Franz
Bonnie Henchen
Lorraine Short

5th Year Recognition

Fred & Kim Berg
George & Betty Blauvelt
Bohl Associates, Inc.
The Cummins Foundation
Mark & Lori Dawson
Joel & Heidi Hazzard
Kokosz Family
Jim Ottman
Stanley Correctional Institute (SCORE)  

4th Year Recognition

Vernon & Gwendolyn Beloat
Jay Froh
Al & Kay Lamovec 
Neillsville Dept of Public Works
Duane Schwab

3rd Year Recognition

Andrew & Renee Bernard
Combat Parts/Dale Hammel
Scott & Lori Daentl 
Larry & Pat Dessner
Kathy Houzner
John & Donna Koutre
Julie McNealy
Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT)
Bonnie Wiater

2nd Year Recognition

Dan & Susan Berger
James & Diana Buechner
Linda Czlapinski
Eagle Tire Center/Russell & Nancy Young
Forward Bank
Ray & Pat Maertens
Michael W Stinson Nam Knights-Tundra Chapter
Ralph & Peg Ottum
James Rice
Harold Schmitt
Terri Stott
VFW Dr Mueller Post #10452
Wisconsin Humanities

1st Year Recognition

Kenneth Baillargeon
Diane Becker
Donald Bonack
BS of Wisconsin, LLC
Chili Implement Co, Inc.
Mark & Angela Delvecchio
Mike & Marilyn Derpinghaus
Ernest Erickson
Faber Electric/ Bob Faber
Kristin Frame
Guy Metals
Marjorie Hansen
Joseph & Connie Havlovick
Pamela Ironside
Kenneth Kasper
Jim Kitchen
Kuhl Equipment, LLC
Loopy’s Inc./William Kleich
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Lynn Brothers Farm
Lunda Foundation, Inc.
Master Carts, LLC
Janice Mayer
Randy Mess
Tiffany Miller
Graphic Designs/Susie & Jay Nolet
Michael Platt
Tom & Mary Randall
Robert Schueller Family
Cynthia Schultz
Robert Seidl
Carol Shea
Trees from Home, Inc./Julie Stuhlmacher
Michael R. Swansby
Veterans Center of Menomonie/Terry Miland
VFW Oregon-Brooklyn Memorial Post #10272
VFW Auxiliary Post #8478
VFW Post #8478 
Vortex Optics/Ken Calhun
Kenneth Walz
Weber’s Farm Store/Ken & Joellen Heiman
Phil Wilder
Wisconsin Lift Truck, Corp. 
Ned Zuelsdorff

A special award that is determined by the staff of The Highground is the “Spirit of The Highground” award. This award is presented to someone who has gone above and beyond the monetary works and also has the “spirit” of The Highground in them. This year, the award was humbly accepted by Roy and Ginny Franz (Madison, WI) for the countless hours and costs of printing all the letterhead and envelopes for The Highground; Ralph and Peggy Ottum (Unity, WI) for the dedication and hours spent traveling around with the ATV and raffle tickets; and then by the “Jims”—Jim Henchen (Neillsville, WI), Jim Buechner (Madison, WI), Jim Ottman (Spring Valley, WI) and Jim Osterman (Fairchild, WI) for the back-breaking work that was needed in 2020. It was difficult for the staff to come to a decision as there are many people who have the ”Spirit” of The Highground in them.

The small staff could not do what they do to honor our service heroes without the hundreds of volunteers and contributors. In addition, Museum exhibits and numerous events are open to the public free of charge because of their generosity.

For donation information, contact Kay at 715-743-4224 or by email to donations@thehighground.us.