In 1994, the Miracle on Canal Street program started as a way to carry on the Potawatomi tradition of nurturing younger generations so they grow up to lead healthy, productive lives. The focus of the program has always been on helping children.
Every year, Potawatomi Bingo Casino raises funds for Miracle on Canal Street through a series of special bingo games. The generosity of casino guests, vendors, media partners and team members has allowed the program to grow each year.
This year, Potawatomi chose OnMilwaukee.com as a Miracle On Canal signature media partner. OnMilwaukee.com's charity of choice is the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective.
The Miracle bingo game is played at every session in fall. For $3 a card, players can participate in the game. Half of the purchase price goes into the Miracle fund and half is awarded as the jackpot for that session's Miracle bingo game.
Since its inception, Miracle on Canal Street has raised more than $11.5 million, helping more than 375 local children's charities.
In 2012, the Miracle on Canal Street program will contribute to 30 children's charities from southeastern Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective, Adoption Resources of Wisconsin, Betty Brinn Children's Museum, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, Pathfinders, Penfield Children's Center, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Special Olympics Wisconsin.
An additional 20 charities will receive funding from this year's program and will be randomly drawn on Dec. 14. The Miracle on Canal Street grand total will also be announced on Dec. 14 during the Miracle Bingo Bash.
"It's always our goal to hit the $1 million mark. Just as important, however, is bringing awareness to the impact these 30 organizations are making on youth in southeastern Wisconsin," says Ryan Amudson, Potawatomi's external communication's manager. "We want people to know that there is a need for these services in our communities."
In conjunction with the Miracle program, the bike collective will give away 15 brand new kids' bikes – along with a light, lock and helmet – through a contest. Fifteen more winners will get a lock, light and helmet set.
To enter the contest, anyone ages 7-17 must provide an essay and a drawing expressing their love for biking by Monday, Nov. 26. The essays and poems, along with an entry form, must be snail mailed or emailed for consideration.
The bike collective will pick the winners based on the essays and drawings on Dec. 3. Entrants must live in the city of Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Bicycle Collective was officially founded in 2002. The group is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that provides a publicly accesible bicycle resource center for the city of Milwaukee.
"It is a place where bike construction and repair can happen in a creative and supportive environment and at an affordable cost. We feel strongly about working to create a world where human powered transportation is the norm and available to everyone," says Jason McDowell, OnMilwaukee.com designer and Milwaukee Bicycle Collective volunteer.
The collective will use the Miracle money to overhaul their youth program as well as improve shop operations, which includes location, availability and their youth programs. The group currently works out of a space at 2910 W. Clybourn St., but would like to find a more accessible storefront.
The collective allows kids from the city to volunteer hours to earn a bike. In order to get a bike from the bike collective, kids have to learn how to fix all parts of a bike. In order to do this, a new punchcard system is in place. Each section on the punchcard represents a part of the bike – brakes, handlebars, wheels, etc. – and the kid gets a punch when they prove they know how to fix that part of a bike. When the punchcard is full, they get the bike.
"They can't ride it out of the shop until they've built a complete bike," says McDowell. "Once a youth has demonstrated that they have an understanding of one of the important elements of a bike, their card gets punched, eventually earning them a new bike."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.