Pirate Treasure benefits a cause that hits close to home for student

PORT WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL students donated nearly $2,600 to the Alzheimer’s Association through the Pirate Treasure program and senior Maria Wichmann’s Capstone project. Wisconsin Chapter Senior Development Manager Taylor Ruffing (left) accepted the check from students Ava Mrozek, Galina Vartanova, Wichmann, Brielle Bertler, Ella Gilhooly and the School District Director of Special Services Duane Woelfel. Photo by Mitch Maersch
Ozaukee Press staff

Selecting an organization to receive the money from Port Washington High School’s Pirate Treasure program this year was personal for senior Maria Wichmann.

The 43-member group met a few times throughout the school year and collected money through donations from students.

At the end of the year, three organizations with funding needs are selected to make presentations to the group.

This year, Pirate Treasure chose the Alzheimer’s Association.

That’s the same organization that Wichmann selected for her senior Capstone project.

It is near and dear to her heart. Her mother Ruth, a former teacher at Dunwiddie and Lincoln elementary schools and St. John XXIII Catholic School, has Alzheimer’s.

“It was so huge to see support from my past teachers,” Maria said.

Maria raised $1,300 toward a cure, and Pirate Treasure nearly matched it. The group presented a check last month to the Alzheimer’s Association for $2,590.

Pirate Treasure, she said, is looking for businesses to match its donations and for other funding sources. Maria said the group was more active this year after the pandemic limited participation the year before.

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, Maria said, there are many misconceptions.

“I think the biggest thing is awareness,” she said.

Taylor Ruffing, senior development manager of the Alzheimer’s Association Wisconsin Chapter, accepted the check.

“It’s incredible to see young people come together for Alzheimer’s disease. It’s really cool that they could rally together and make a different at such a young age,” she said. “It’s no longer the disease of their grandparents.”

Port Washington High School Special Services Director Duane Woelfel was proud.

“This is just a fantastic opportunity and a great service that our students did,” he said,

For more information, on the Alzheimer’s Association Wisconsin Chapter, visit www.alz.org/wi.


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