Big Brothers Big Sisters of Fond du Lac County celebrated Wisconsin during the 2023 BIG Event Presented by Shea Electric & Communications! 225 guests joined us at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Fond du Lac on Thursday, July 13 as we cheered on our favorite mixologists, honored our Big of the Year, congratulated graduating matches, and auctioned off some incredible items with the help of Rod Drendel and Charlie Berens. Thanks to a special meet and greet raffle, over 90 live and silent auction items, a one-of-a-kind “Box of Rocks” ring donated by The Goldsmith, and generous donations made at the event, we raised over $80,000 to support local children with powerful mentoring relationships!

The evening kicked off during a meet and greet with special guest Charlie Berens. 20 raffle winners enjoyed a VIP experience with light appetizers, a beverage, and photo opportunity with the comedian. Grande Cheese Company sponsored the appetizers with a selection of provolone, Romano, and white cheddar cheese—because what’s more Wisconsin than that?

Throughout the evening, “celebrity mixologists” kept guests both entertained and hydrated with their specialty cocktails. Don Hornish and Rory McCarthy from Grande Cheese Company showcased a bourbon favorite with “The American Dream,” Katherine Vergos and Dawn Vandenberg from SSM Health dazzled with their vodka lemonade “Pink Squirrel Martini,” and Justin Smith and Chad Feucht from C.D. Smith Construction and Feucht Financial Group took us on vacation with the “Rum-N-Coco Paradise Delight.” Reigning champions Mark Diederichs and Kurt Petik from Breeze Dairy Group and Rabo AgriFinance claimed the crown of best mixologist for the second year in a row with their “Royal Jester Juice.”

After a panko-crusted walleye and petit filet dinner with dessert sponsored by Mix It Up Bakery, we heard from the 2023 Big of the Year, Kim Meurer. Meurer has been matched with Little Brother Michael for over five years. Meuer highlighted the positive impact being a mentor has had on both her Little and herself. While her friendship has opened her Little up to a world of new experiences, it has enriched her own life as well. You can read more about their match here.

Not only did we get to honor our Big of the Year, but we also congratulated our graduating matches. This year, four matches reached this milestone. These incredible friendships, ranging from 2 years to 11 years together, graduated from our program as the Little either turned 18 or graduated from high school.

Auctioneer extraordinaire Rod Drendel and Midwest comedian Charlie Berens had every guest laughing when they teamed up for the live auction. Through all the jokes, stories, and a bit of banter, they made this event one for the books! Drendel even taught Berens the art of auctioneering when it came time to bid on a package of tickets for his upcoming “The Good Old Fashioned Tour.”

To close out the evening, graduating Little Realitay took the stage to talk about her own experience as a Little in our program. From her time in Teen Group to outings with her Big Sister Jacqueline, she reminisced on the opportunities that she otherwise would have missed out on. Thanks to the support of her Big, Realitay will be attending Moraine Park Technical College this fall.

The prizes, auctions, and cocktails may be over, but there are still other BIG ways to get involved! Whether it’s a one-time gift or a sustained donation, you can support The BIG Event with a donation here. There are currently over 100 Littles waiting for a mentor in the Fond du Lac County area. Click here to learn more about becoming a Big Brother, Sister, Couple, or Family.

Thank you to the sponsors who made this event possible: [PRESENTING] Shea Electric & Communications [PLATINUM] The Goldsmith, RadioPlus [GOLD] BrownBoots Interactive Inc., Fox Valley Savings Bank, Grande Cheese Company, Michels Corporation, Sabel Mechanical LLC., and SSM Health.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Fond du Lac County is a United Way Agency that assists children with social, emotional and character development through one-to-one mentoring relationships with caring adults. The agency matches children with a Big Brother, Sister, Couple or Family in a community or school-based program. Children aged 6 through 13 can enroll in the program through parent or guardian referral. For more information about the program or to volunteer, call 920-922-8200 or visit