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This summer’s Cruise for a Cause will be aboard the Odyssey Lake Michigan, a boat capable of holding up to 750 guests. Photos submitted
Homer Glen native Mitch Zeiler, a 2011 Lockport Township High School graduate, is planning the second Cruise for a Cause to help benefit Sertoma Centre, a nonprofit agency serving those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Thomas Czaja, Editor
4:29 am CST February 27, 2019

Last year, Cruise for a Cause was a sold-out event with a gross income of roughly $60,000.

In 2019, a bigger ship and loftier financial goal in Year 2 of the function is the plan, according to Mitch Zeiler, a Homer Glen native and Lockport Township High School graduate who is once again leading planning for Cruise for a Cause, which primarily benefits the Sertoma Centre. The nonprofit agency provides for more than 1,200 individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and those living with mental illness, according to its website.

In 2018, Zeiler came up with the idea for the event to rent a boat on Lake Michigan for an evening of food, drinks, entertainment and dancing. Since last year’s event did so well, this time around, he rented out the Odyssey Lake Michigan, a bigger boat that can hold up to 750 people, which is 300 more than the capacity of the ship rented last year.

The ship is to board at 7:30 p.m. July 13 before setting sail and returning to Navy Pier at 11:30 p.m. With the ability to accommodate so many more people, the hope is that this summer’s event can hit $100,000 raised.

“Because last year was so successful, the requirement was needing bigger,” Zeiler said of the new ship choice. “Obviously, most importantly is the opportunity to raise more money for those in need.”

Zeiler added that while Sertoma Centre will receive the majority of the proceeds, a small percentage also will be given to two other foundations this time around. The first is The Andrew Weishar Foundation, created in honor of its namesake who died at the age of 21 in 2012 and asked his family to “pay forward” the kindness and generosity he was shown during his fight, providing support and financial relief to families with young adults and adolescents battling cancer.

The other is the Tom Hopkins Memorial Foundation, started by its namesake’s children after he died from cancer and assists local youth athletics and families affected by cancer.

“It’s cocktail attire again,” Zeiler said of the 2019 event. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity for more people to join us on the mission of changing the world, helping those in need.”

The organizer added one had to be on the boat last year to fully understand the experience, which likewise includes viewing a fireworks show while still aboard the ship. Cruise for a Cause has also partnered with Concrete Cowboy, a nightlife spot in Chicago that will be the site of the official after party at midnight.

Limited VIP entry and transportation will be available to the first 300 attendees for the after party. Cruise for a Cause is an ages 21-plus event.

“What I did this year is create a cruise committee because of the growth of it,” Zeiler said. “We still wanted to focus on growing Cruise for a Cause and want it to continue to double in size every year. Next year, it would be awesome to need a bigger boat.”

An individual ticket for $150 includes the aforementioned aspects, including all-you-can drink, and while it is not a full end dinner, Zeiler said there will be “high-end appetizers,” with the likes of chicken and beef tenderloin skewers gracing the menu.

And Sertoma Centre has added various mental health programs, as well, since Cruise for a Cause launched last year, making it as imperative as ever for Zeiler and all involved with the event that as many people come out as possible.

“We’re just excited to create an interesting event that stands out and makes people excited for giving back,” Zeiler said.

For more information, to purchase tickets or become a sponsor, visit

Those interested can also contact Zeiler directly at (708) 408-5779 or