We are Thankful for Mike Molepske, Shannon Klahn and Crew who have donated more than $30,000 to the USA Barefoot Team!

We are always grateful for the #barefootlove we receive from all over the #barefootnation and the world… and this Thanksgiving we wanted to give thanks to a very special group of donors in Wisconsin.

As we announced in October, the Wisconsin Barefooters donated more than $30,000 to the USA Barefoot Team, proceeds from the 2019 U.S. Barefoot Nationals!!!!!!

This incredible boost to barefooting could not have happened without the hard work of Nationals Tournament Director Andrew Martin, Marketing/Sponsorship Director Shannon Klahn and of course, the Money Man: Mike Molepske.

We chatted with Shannon Klahn about how the Wisconsin Barefooters made it happen! She says making money for the team was a goal from the very start.

“Our objective going into the 2019 U.S. Barefoot Waterski Nationals was to make it the most profitable tournament in the history of the sport, with the intent of donating the proceeds back to the American Barefoot Club. We felt the best way to accomplish this goal was to keep things simple, run the tournament efficiently, and keep profitability in mind with everything we did,” says Shannon.


Supporting barefoot water skiing is in Shannon’s DNA.  Long-time competitors, Shannon’s Family built the Blue Moo in Alma Center, Wisconsin and donated the site and infrastructure… so right off the bat, money was being saved!  But that was only the beginning.

Shannon says their mindset going into the 2019 Nationals was: “What would Doug Koch do?” Doug Koch was so passionate about the sport and did everything he could to help it grow and prosper. He was willing to do the hard work of garnering sponsors, running the silent auction, and finding new ways to raise funds.

“We received a huge donation from the Kohler Company (a play and stay golf package valued at $6,000). We also worked hard on finding as many sponsors as possible for the event. We garnered $16,050 in sponsorships for the tournament. We started this initiative in January 2019 to give us enough time to find sponsors leading up to the tournament,” says Shannon who works at HQ of the title sponsor: Bank First

nats sponsors

In addition to the sponsors… here are some of the U.S. Nationals Most Valuable People:

  • Amy and Mary Molepske bought all the concessions food ingredients at Costco and spent the night before/morning of the tournament making wraps, sandwiches, and salads. Despite having to pay for 70 officials’ meals, we still ended up making over $1,300 with our concessions stand.
  • Janell Heller made the food for the ABC Member meeting and borrowed all decorations from neighbors and friends.
  • Shannon Klahn made all the banners, signage, and the program book so we didn’t have to hire it out.
  • Deanna Dean did the Livestream , with the help of the team from the entire team at the World Barefoot Center.
  • Andrew Martin created the Nationals website and ran the tournament
  • All the officials for doing a great job running the tournament
  • Paul, Trudie, Megan and Max Adams and the Minnesota Barefooters for always putting in a ton of work… SKOL Vikings!
  • Mike Molepske for all his fundraising efforts
  • Barefoot Fans!

The Nationals Organizing Team also brought back some of the popular fundraisers of the past and enhanced them. The 50/50 raffle at the banquet, which raised approximately $800 after the winner Dale Stevens donated the proceeds back to the ABC. They also brought back the silent auction.

“We hope the money will be used to help the U.S. Teams compete at the 2020 Worlds and World Championships in years to come… and it will be allocated toward official’s development, junior skier development, and other grassroots initiatives to increase participation in and grow the sport of barefoot water skiing,” says Shannon.

For Shannon and the entire Heller Family... they do it for the BAREFOOT LOVE.

“Barefoot Waterskiing is a sport we all did together as a family. It created wonderful memories and instilled great character traits, such as discipline, hard-work, humility, teamwork, and respect for others. We see the value in what the sport gave to us, and we want to ensure other families benefit from it as well,” says Shannon.

“Offering a lake for tournaments is our way of giving back to the sport. Plus, we want to keep the site in good shape until Elaine’s kids get old enough to start competing, haha,” says Shannon who has a new little barefooter of her own!

We have so much to be thankful for… family, friends, footin’ and the U.S. Nationals Team!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!turkey.jpg


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