WHY, YOU ASK?
By: Jana Evans - Founder of the Dip
July 27, 2004 was a normal day in Cambridge. Like any other small towns speckled throughout Wisconsin folks were at work, farmers in the field and the warmth of the day was around us. It was that afternoon that tragedy struck our little, close knit community. It is the type of tragedy that only happens in other communities.
It was the year that Dustin Zuelsdorf a senior and well-respected high school student was looking forward to. With football practice around the corner “this would be the year”. The fans of the sport were certain number “52” affectionately known as “Dozer” would be instrumental to this years’ success. It was the year that CHS would be hopeful of taking the championship and move on to the playoffs with high expectations. It was the school year that he and his classmates had been working toward. The Class of 2005 would complete a chapter in their lives that had been instrumental in building their character, personalities, individualism and creating their dreams for their next chapter.
July 27th is the day that changed many in our community. The grief of losing Dustin in a tragic motorcycle accident was more than some could come to grips with. It was a loss that many knew would not subside with time.
We started the scholarship fund in 2004, and raised the funds for our initial scholarships through a pair of fisherees and ATV raffles. The class of 2005, Dozer's class, were the first recipients of the Dozer 52 Scholarships. There were five scholarships awarded that year, to some of Dozer's closest friends, in the amount of $1,052.52 a piece.
About a year after that tragic day is when the Evans family decided to present an idea that would honor the memory of Dustin. After formulating a vision for a special day in Cambridge a small group that included Dale and Kim Zuelsdorf (Dustin’s mom & dad) were gathered to listen to what Joe and Jana had to say. The intent of the day when it was presented and still the primary focus now is to have a day to honor Dustin. To pay tribute to his memories, celebrate life and create a legacy that will continue to honor him for many years to come. As a result, the money raised from the event is placed in a perpetual scholarship fund titled the Dozer 52 Football Scholarship Fund to award senior football players that exhibit an outstanding commitment to the Cambridge Football Program, and to their fellow classmates, family and community. With skeptical looks and after laughs that represented “you have got to be kidding” subsided it was agreed to “why not give it a try” and the Dip for Dozer was brought to life.
With no budget and some crazy ideas of how it would/could work the first “Dip for Dozer” was set for Saturday, February 11, 2006. With no funds to cover the cost of the event Jana Evans turned to her employer, Badger Bank for financial assistance. The first “Dip” was considered a success by the committee that worked hard to put it all together. The event started in 2006 with a small tarped tent for the waiting dippers, a pickup truck and ice shanty to change out of their wet clothes and a small hole cut by whom we fondly now call the “Logistics Committee”. The temperature was 29 degrees, we had 27 dippers and they collected $3,964.00 in pledges. In addition, raffles and drawings were done to raise additional funds that day. In our minds a HUGE SUCCESS, so it was decided to make it an annual event.
Each year we have seen steady growth in the event from the participants, pledgers, spectators and the amount of money raised. In addition, we have grown out of our small tarped tent, pickup and ice shanty. We now have three 20x30 heated tents, restroom facilities and a larger sound system all thanks to the generous support from the Cambridge community.
In 2011 we added Turkey Bowling to our slate of activities to honor Erik Beirmeier another member of our community that lost his life at a very young age. Although very young, Erik had a passion for bowling so those funds are placed into the Lake Ripley Lanes Bowling Buddies fund in his memory. In 2013, the temperature was a balmy 25 degrees, we were 7 dippers shy of our goal of 100 dippers and raised $18,552.00. And in 2018 we had 112 dippers raise over $21,000.
Our events at Lake Ripley Park now include the Dip for Dozer with a costume contest, turkey bowling, ice sculpting, kites on ice, hot food and more. We continue to follow up our event each year by celebrating our successes and announcing winners of our various categories at Rockdale Bar. We have raffles and free food available in addition to live entertainment to cap off the day.
To date this special day in February (always the second Saturday in February) has raised in excess of $200,000.00 and has awarded over 60 scholarships worth more than $135,000.00. Most importantly it has brought our community together to celebrate memories, life and provide healing for our community.
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Dip For Dozer, checks can be made payable to: The Dozer 52 Football Scholarship Fund and mailed to, Dozer 52 Football Scholarship Fund C/O Rhonda Hagy, PO Box 216, Cambridge, WI 53523.
You can contact Jana Evans at Badger Bank (608) 423-3241, for additional information or visit the Dip For Dozer event on Facebook. Mark your calendar; we look forward to seeing you on the second Saturday in February!
Kim & Dale Zuelsdorf
-Dozer's little brother.
Jana & Joe Evans
Jody & Richard Wolf
Jeff & Rhonda Hagy
Mary & Bob Morin
Steve & Sharon Gasper
Jay Bowe & Jim Murray