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Keeping up their Holy Spirit

School’s supporters host successful alternative fundraiser

THIRSTY WHALE OWNER Gina Freudinger, right, takes live Facebook video of the drawing of the winners of the Holy Spirit Catholic School 50-50 fundraiser. From left are Holy Spirit School principal Cathy Menghini; the Rev. Tim Ekaitis, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Norway and St. Barbara’s Catholic Church in Vulcan; and fundraiser coordinator Paula Pieropon. Bill Nagy of Iron Mountain won the $10,000 grand prize. (Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo)

NORWAY — Bill Nagy of Iron Mountain was the $10,000 grand prize winner in the Holy Spirit Catholic School raffle fundraiser.

The 50-50 drawing raised $40,000, with half going to school and the other half awarded.

“We had $5,000 of the winnings donated back, making our total raised $25,000,” event organizer Paula Pieropon said.

Other cash prize winners were Jeff Leitermann of Milwaukee, second, $4,000; Katie LaPine of Vulcan, third, $3,000; Paul Hewlett of Norway, fourth, $2,000; and Joe Hirsch of Chicago, fifth, $1,000.

The Rev. Tim Ekaitis of Norway drew the winners Tuesday evening at the Thirsty Whale Bar & Grill in Norway, with the event broadcast live on Facebook. All prizes were based on selling 4,000 tickets at $10 each.

The Thirsty Whale has hosted a volleyball tournament to raise money for the school in honor of the late James Harvey Moore for the past six years. But this year’s fundraiser, which would have been the seventh annual, had to be canceled due to COVID-19.

Pieropon credits co-organizer Kris Giesen with the idea of conducting a 50-50 drawing.

“I just felt with health concerns, as well as approaching local businesses this year, we just couldn’t do the volleyball tournament,” Giesen said. “But we felt strongly to still do something for the school.”

They originally had planned to make and sell 2,000 tickets.

“The person making the tickets for us said they could do 4,000 for the same price,” Pieropon said. “I figured OK, let’s do this.”

And that they did — selling the last ticket at 3:26 p.m. Tuesday to hit the $40,000 mark.

“We are so thankful for everyone involved,” Pieropon said. “There is no ‘I’ in team — we couldn’t have done it without each and everyone’s help.”

They also acknowledged Louie Giuliani of Norway for selling the most tickets and awarded her with a $100 gift card to The Thirsty Whale.

Pieropon said they plan to do conduct another 50-50 fundraiser next year, with the volleyball tournament to be determined.

Ekaitis said at the drawing he hoped the volleyball tournament could return next year — so he could defend his title.

“We are going to have to do something, because Father Tim is a kid at heart and loves to play,” Pieropon said.

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