By Jeff Beshey
When Donny Wichmann passed away in July 2019 at the age of 53, it left a void in the Minnesota wrestling community. He touched the lives of the many people he met in a special way – whether as a family member, a teammate, a coach, a friend, or even just an acquaintance.
At Donny’s funeral, a group of Augsburg Wrestling alumni came together to celebrate his life, and that’s when the idea of a Donny Wichmann Foundation came into being.
“When we got together for the funeral, we started discussing how we wanted to do something in Donny’s name,” said Troy Wondrasch, a long-time friend and Augsburg Wrestling alum. “I think it was something positive to do in our grief.”
To help raise funds, the group decided to throw a hog roast. “We had a hog roast every summer during the eighties and nineties back when we were wrestling at Augsburg,” said Wondrasch. “They were always a good time and a chance for us wrestlers to get together, so it was a good fit.”
The group has raised over $100,000 in their first year through the hog roast and donations. Close friends and a lot of Augsburg wrestlers attended the hog roast at Wondrasch’s land in Wisconsin. They plan to make it an annual event each August. A bean bag tournament and an auction at the roast helped contribute to the original fund.
They plan to use the interest from the fund to give back to worthy causes in the Minnesota wrestling community.
“100% of the interest goes back to wrestling, so the fund will give back to Minnesota wrestling forever. We can never touch the principal, and the interest will be given away every year,” said Wondrasch. “I know that puts that huge DW grin on Donny’s face because we will never let him go. His spirit of generosity and love for the sport and us will live forever!”
The Donny Wichmann Foundation hopes to continue what Donny started. “Donny always helped everyone, included everyone, and was everyone’s friend,” said Wondrasch. “Donny, like all of us, loves wrestling. Donny would give wrestling gear out to kids who didn’t have money.”
The group is looking to help programs and athletes that exemplify who Donny was – someone who includes everyone, a leader who gives back to the sport, brings energy to a team and loves wrestling.
If you know a worthy program or athlete or would like to learn how you can help the fund, call Mike Pfeffer 320-491-8903 or Troy Wondrasch 952-807-4188 or email Dw1ofakind@yahoo.com.