By Jennie Zeitler
Nicki Vogt, December Woman of the Month, is a busy wife, mom and city of Sauk Centre administrative assistant. She is active in the PTA at Sauk Centre Elementary and serves on the board of directors of Punkins and Monkeys Preschool, a non-profit co-op.
“My kids are my world —I would do anything for them,” said Vogt.
Daughter Pyper is 6 years old and in first grade. Daughter Afton is 3 1/2 and son Abe is 1 1/2. Their proud daddy is Aaron, who runs Vogt Dairy with his dad, Ken, and brother, Ethan.
But the March 2009 birth of the Vogt’s second child, Ivy Rose, is what compels her to give so much of her time and energy to another cause — the March of Dimes. Ivy was stillborn.
During a routine ultrasound, clinic personnel discovered that the baby no longer had a heartbeat. Later that day, Vogt found March for Babies information and while still in labor, she began emailing friends about forming a team to honor the baby.
The mission of the March of Dimes is to help moms have full-term pregnancies and to research the problems that threaten babies’ health.
Team Ivy Rose came together just weeks later for its very first March for Babies in St. Cloud. There were about 30 team members that year. Now there is a core group that walks every year.
“The team is a huge part of everything that goes on,” Vogt said. “I’d still be involved with the March of Dimes without them, but not as successful.”
Team members include Siw Bieringer, Arlene Pieper, “Minnow” Speidel, Amanda Deters, Abi Deters, Jolene Konnight, Heidi Leach and Kim Brunko.
The most gratifying part of her involvement is knowing that other people have the support that Vogt found with the March of Dimes.
“This is reaching out to people who don’t know what the March of Dimes is,” she said. “I didn’t know until Ivy was born.”
Vogt describes herself as being “usually pretty reserved.”
“But I’m pretty vocal when it comes to this cause,” she said.
Vogt was not much of a public speaker before, but has had the opportunity to talk to different groups.
“People come up to me and tell me, ‘I’m so glad you said that,’” Vogt said. “It opens a way for them to tell their story, letting them know that it’s OK to share.”
A major part of the team’s work is fundraising. They have hosted a huge garage sale every year, and have offered Zumba classes. In 2013, they tried a new fundraiser — a 50-50 raffle. Fifty percent of the money raised was given as a prize to one donor and 50 percent of the total collected is given to charity.
“We did a lot of research on successful ways to raise funds,” said Vogt.
To do the raffle, the team needed a sponsor. Together, the team members made a presentation to the Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce.
“We were shooting for the stars with the raffle,” she said. “I set my sights high sometimes.”
Tickets were $20. Vogt used Facebook to post updates as each team member reported their totals every day.
The raffle was held at J.T.’s Pub and Grill in Sauk Centre. The final total raised was nearly $14,000. To top that off, the person receiving the prize of nearly $7,000 gave it back to Team Ivy Rose.
“Pete Rothfork gave it back and the only thing he asked of us was to participate in his fundraiser, the Kickoff to Summer Car Show and Cookoff in Melrose,” she said. “We happily did so and had a blast for a good cause.”
Ever since Vogt put the team together in 2009, one of her aspirations was to be the number one fundraiser in the state.
“We’ve been in the Top 10 since we started,” she said. “People have been generous; this community is amazing.”
This year, Vogt reached the pinnacle when Team Ivy Rose was recognized as Minnesota’s top March of Dimes fundraiser. The amount raised in 2013 (prior to the March for Babies in April) was $22,261. The team ranked 24th nationally.
The total amount raised by Team Ivy Rose since its inception hovers around $62,623.
For more information, call (320) 309-7532 or visit the team’s Web site at www.marchforbabies.org\team\ivyrose.