Place your bid or buy it now, buy a mystery key or bid live – the Sun Prairie Education Foundation’s “Keys to the Future” event has a few surprises in store and a new location: The Loft at 132.

This year’s Keys takes place on Thursday, Oct. 3 from 6-9 p.m. and tickets are going fast – 170 of 300 tickets have been sold already. Tickets cost $50 each and are available through the Sun Prairie Education Foundation website at

“We anticipate selling out,” remarked longtime board member and current SPEF President Tom Hebl, referring to the roughly 130 tickets remaining available. “We do.”

You can also bid online in your pajamas from home without even buying a ticket.

But those attending the event will notice a few changes, starting with the venue. The Loft at 132 became available to the Foundation because they asked, according to Rebecca Ketelsen with SPEF.

“Chris Franks and I were having a beer at Full Mile and we were talking about how awesome it would be to have the event upstairs and it wasn’t quite open yet. We had just finished the previous Keys event from last year and then it opened a couple of weeks later and we went to look at it,” Ketelsen said. “Yeah, Michelle Howe is one of the owners of that space and she was really, really nice and is easy to work with.”

The second change is the food from Salvatore’s Tomato Pies.

“We’re excited about having Salvatore’s this year. A lot of venues have like one specific restaurant that you can work with. The thing that’s nice about The Loft is that you can bring in anybody you want. And we’ve always wanted to work with Sal’s,” Ketelsen said. “So we were excited to be able to have them be a part of it this year. They’ve donated a great deal of the food. They gave us a really generous bid. We’re happy to promote them any way that we can.”

Another change for those attending the event in person are the mystery keys. Lorie Candelmo will be selling 100 mystery keys at $20 each that may or may not fit three boxes that contain prizes including a Sundara Spa gift package, jewelry or a third prize that has yet to be announced.

“Even if your key doesn’t open one of the boxes, one of the great things about it is that you can take the key to drown your sorrows, as we say, at Full Mile and you get a buy one, get one beer with that key at Full Mile,” Ketelsen said. “So it’s just kind of a fun way to keep the crowd engaged and of course raise funds for the foundation.”

One final change is the “Buy It Now” price. Many of the items available in the online auction that begins Sept. 26 at 6 a.m. have an auction price and a more expensive, “Buy It Now” price. That’s for those who bidders may not want to wrestle with other bidders or worry about their bid on their cell phone, tablet or computer as bidding gets hot and heavy.

Those who bid online, of course, will not have the ability to participate in the Live Auction, which this year is focusing on experiences that include eight front row tickets to the Sun Prairie High School Graduation at the Alliant Energy Center.

Also featured at the live auction will be a Door County Getaway at The Rushes Resort for seven nights, courtesy of Hebl & Hebl and a trip for two aboard a Cirrus Aircraft for sightseeing over Madison, with other prizes to be announced. Prizes may also be dropped off at the law offices of Hebl & Hebl, located at 1150 W. Main St.

Silent auction items will include quarter-page newspaper ads from the Sun Prairie Star; a limo ride to the new Buck & Honey’s in Monona, valued at $300; several bally boy or girl experiences to Sun Prairie sports events that range from baseball to volleyball; a Best Seat in the House experience at a Sun Prairie High School hockey game; four Duck Blind passes to a 2020 Madison Mallards game; a Lenovo Thinkbook laptop valued at $1,100; lunch with Superintendent Brad Saron; “Principal for a Day” including lunch with the school principal at any Sun Prairie elementary school; gift certificates from restaurants including Guimo’s, Burracho’s, Meze, and more.

Helping to provide enhanced educational experiences

The volunteer board of trustees provides the organizational support needed to successfully operate the SPEF.

Board members devote their time and expertise to help empower educators to provide enriching learning opportunities for students in the Sun Prairie Area School District.

Although grants are primarily solicited from teachers, applicants who are parents, students, business owners or other individuals who want to help Sun Prairie youth may also write a grant through SPEF. The SPEF is an independent 501©(3) corporation and not affiliated with the Sun Prairie School Board whose mission is to reward educators who have outstanding educational program or enhancement ideas that can’t be funded by traditional budgetary resources in the Sun Prairie Area School District.

The foundation has also partnered with organizations including Prairie Music & Arts, the Sun Prairie Media Center and the Sun Prairie Public Library to bring youth programs to Sun Prairie. The SPEF has also worked with local civic organizations including the Sun Prairie Rotary Club.

Through the generosity of the community, a total of $553,724 in grants have been awarded since the 2005-06 school year from a total of 316 grants that have enhanced educational experiences for tens of thousands of students.

The Keys to the Future event is the SPEF’s only annual fundraiser to help finance enhanced educational experiences through grants given by the SPEF in the fall and in the spring.

So, by supporting Keys, event attendees are directly supporting Sun Prairie’s education . . . and its future.

“I just can’t believe I’ve been on the foundation for two years, and this is my third Keys event, the unbelievable amount of work that people on the committees and the foundation and the community do,” remarked board member Katie Boos who is also a teacher, “and the money that they’ve raised and they just give – they’re so giving. I’m very honored to know that what you do for the kids of Sun Prairie. It’s amazing.”

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