Unlike the majority of my opinion pieces that talk about how wonderful Governor Walker and our brave Wisconsin GOP Legislators are, this one is a lot harder to write. It is much easier for me to defend and laud the accomplishments of others than it is to pat myself and my merry band of friends on the back, but given the enormity of our accomplishments, I felt it necessary to write about it. This is not intended to be self promotion. It is intended to inspire others to dream big and then surround yourself with the right people to get the job done right.
As many of you know I was a co creator and co organizers of the Celebrate Walker Rally in Wauwatosa. The genesis of this now famous event really was a previous much smaller event I helped organize in Madison way back in November where a merry band of about 120 Walker supporters marched through thousands of union hacks who spit at us, threw coffee at us, and called us every name under the sun. That in itself was not the motivation, the fact that about 90% of us went back at to the Capital Rotunda to do it again was. We knew that day that there was a thirst for a conservative event and we figured hey why not us so we went to right to work on it.
So Lisa Weed (she deserves one shameless plug) and I started batting around ideas on dates and location and ended up with the idea of Hart Park in Tosa on the Saturday after the recall signatures were due. We contacted Senator Leah Vukmir who represents that area and she agreed to speak at our little grassroots rally. We thought maybe 200 to 300 people in the park. We could find someone with a little PA system so Senator Vukmir could share a few words and then we would do a march of some sort. Well this is where this story gets real interesting. We started to expand our base of organizers and soon realized our little event could blossom into something much bigger. We brought in some wonderful people, too many to fairly mention each one, but trust me when I tell you they were the true heroes of the event.
Do not get me wrong, this event had a ton of potential pitfalls. What if we couldn’t attract too many good speakers? What if the local media tried to make us look bad? What if the GOP establishment in Wisconsin did not trust us and wanted to take the event over? These were just a few of the questions we had and trust me they were keeping us up at night. Something amazing happened though, the people we found to join us started answering the questions for us. Meg, our person in charge of booking speakers began to call or private message me great news. One by one speaker commitments came rolling in. It was as if all the GOP heavyweights called each other and said hey lets give these guys a chance. It also didn’t hurt that Meg refused to take no for an answer. While this was going on our media liaison Noelle was busy making us and the event look great in local media. Interviews were set up and our promotion machine was up and running. Suddenly our event of 300 was looking a lot more like 1,000 and our venue went from a park shelter to a state of the art outdoor amphitheater, which leads me to another incredible part of this story.
With each passing speaker confirmation our event was getting bigger and bigger. Soon we realized we were way in over our heads financially and we turned to you, the Walker Backers, for help and help you did. I personally had nothing to do with the PAC Onward Wisconsin but Paris the president of it was reporting everyday how generous you all were. Then Mary one of event coordinators began to set up a bake sale to help defray costs of the event. All of a sudden there was a bake sale Facebook page with a ton of volunteers from across Wisconsin baking goods to sell at our event. We were in deep but thanks to your generosity and to a hugely successful bake sale, we were able to meet our financial obligations.
This is in short, an actual documentation of one of the biggest grassroots events pulled off in Wisconsin state history. We could not of done it without a lot of help from our friends. If you are one that helped you have our undying thanks. If you are one looking to help us with our next one stayed tuned. Special thanks to Grassroots Bakers for Walker, Matt Lepperd for volunteering to do sound, Wauwatosa Police, donators to the event, our event speakers, and last but not least the estimated 4,000 people who attended.