River Ridge is #joeystrong

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Joseph Hamann

The River Ridge School District is #joeystrong. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)


River Ridge School District continues to be #joeystrong

By Ted Pennekamp


The River Ridge boys basketball team has been playing with an added perspective this season as the students, staff and fans have rallied around Joseph Hamann and his family after Joey was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in early December.

In fact, the residents of the River Ridge School District, including the communities of Patch Grove, Bloomington, Mount Hope, Bagley and several others, have raised more than $15,000 and counting in the #joeystrong effort.

Tuesday, Dec. 20 was #Joeystrong Night as the River Ridge team hosted Belmont. There were a variety of activities to raise money for the family. During the game, everyone including coaches, fans, dancers, the pep band and players wore yellow #joeystrong T-shirts. The team was selling the shirts in the weeks leading up to the game. The student council had a booth in the hallway promoting Kiss Away Cancer where people could donate and pucker up with their favorite shade of lipstick and kiss a banner on the wall. There was a junior varsity halftime 3-point shootout to help raise funds. Between games, Kirk Hamann, Joseph’s father, was presented with the T-shirt sales profit of more than $10,000 by Timberwolves’ Head Coach Nate Copsey. That number has now likely increased. 

St. Mary’s of Bloomington students gave an iPad to Joseph, and a signed decorative pallet in River Ridge colors was given to the family. Two local auctioneers, Kyle Mueller and Colton Vondra, auctioned off two items. The first item was a #joeystrong shirt that is the same as what the basketball team uses in warm-ups and the second was a basketball signed by all members of the River Ridge team. The two items auctioned for $350 to Michelle White and $2,600 to Jason Cathman.

The River Ridge Athletic Boosters donated their half of the 50-50 Raffle for the evening. Each half was $698. The raffle winner, Jason Cathman, donated his half back to the family as well for a total $1,396 from 50-50 sales.  

“It is nights like this, we see the character of our community,” said River Ridge Athletic Director Wade Winkers about #Joeystrong Night. “The ability to come together for the need of others is incredible. I am so proud to be a member of this community for reasons like this alone. As we move on from the holiday season and prepare for 2017, please realize the quality of people that we are surrounded by every day. They support whatever needs to be supported, whether it be families in need, class/organization fundraisers, community activities, education, or athletics. Oh, yeah, Ridge won the game, but it is kind of an afterthought after you see what a community can do together.”

Joey, a 5-5 junior, recently turned 17 and was scheduled for his second round of chemotherapy for the form of bone cancer on Dec. 22. Chemotherapy is expected for two or three months and might be followed by radiation depending upon how the chemo works. Proceeds from #Joeystrong Night and future fund-raising will help the Hamann family with medical expenses.

Other schools have also helped the cause. A few examples include Fennimore raising money when River Ridge played there, Wauzeka-Steuben buying #joeystrong T-shirts for their warm-ups and donations from Prairie du Chien.

There will be another fundraiser on Jan. 21 at St. Mary’s School at 531 Congress St., Bloomington. There will be an all you can eat meal beginning at noon and a silent auction from noon until 5 p.m. A live auction will start at 7 p.m. For more information, contact

To make further donations, contact Wade Winkers at River Ridge High School at (608) 994-2715.

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