Mud ‘n Jams June event raises funds for Parkside Preschool in Merrill

4×4’s and side-by-sides traveled from stop to stop throughout the day on the poker run. Joseph Frederick photo.


The Merrill Area Community Rides Charity held their annual Mud ‘n Jams ATV/side-by-side and poker run event on June 15, 2024, to benefit Parkside Preschool of Merrill. “It was an honor to have the opportunity to support Parkside Preschool Centers, which has been a fixture in the Merrill community and providing essential services to local families for more than 50 years,” said Jeremy Ratliff, one of the organizers of the event. “Unfortunately, due to factors out of our control such as less than favorable weather and other events in the area, our attendance was down compared to years past. That in turn impacted our fundraising efforts.”
“On the bright side, while Saturday’s late afternoon and evening showers may have deterred some who may have otherwise joined us for our festivities, this year marks the first in our eight years of serving our community that we haven’t enjoyed a great day with plenty of sunshine,” he said.
“Despite the obstacles we faced, I feel the event was a success! Antigo-based rock quintet, Half Stack Alice, put on an amazing performance, and we were happy to see some familiar faces return who have joined us in years past. Even more importantly, an aspect of this year’s event that wasn’t impacted and remained strong as ever, was the level of support we received from our local small business community!”
The organizers said they wanted to thank the ownership and management of more than 20 local businesses for their generous support, which ranged from raffle prize donations to hosting participants as poker run stops to serving as event sponsors. “Without such consistent and generous support from our community, we would not be able to fulfill our mission of supporting local non-profits, individuals, and families in need in our area,” Ratliff said. Mark and Ryan of Westside Market and Gina VanDerGeest with Z’s Fork Horners were especially helpful, he said. “We are so very thankful for them, as well as our sponsors every year, as they cover most, if not all, of our overhead and really are who make our events happen.”
“We are so appreciative of the Merrill Area Community Rides Charity for holding a fundraiser in support of Parkside Preschool Centers’ operational expenses,” representatives of Parkside Preschool said. “We have been diligently seeking community support to help keep our stand-alone, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, state-licensed, preschool-based group child care facility in operation.”
“Parents need affordable child care in order to work outside of the home,” they said. “If Parkside was not in operation, there could be negative implications for the workforce of the Merrill community. While we are sensitive to the effect the current economy already has on the households of the families that attend our facility, we must primarily rely on tuition increases in order to keep our doors open when we can’t obtain outside support funding. We recognize that there is a limit to the amount of money a family can afford to pay for child care before they must make the decision to have one parent quit their employment to stay home with the children.”
Ratliff said the total amount raised to be donated to Parkside Preschool is not yet available. “I don’t have a grand total yet for funds raised, as we typically receive post-event donations via our online portal or mailed to us,” Ratliff said. However, the organization will hold a check presentation ceremony when the final amount is calculated and they make the donation to Parkside Preschool,
“As our 2024 fundraising year draws to a close, we are excited for what 2025 holds!” Ratliff said. Next year’s Mud ‘n Jams ATV/side-by-side and poker run event is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 21, 2025.

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