Chad and Angie Koosman
Community Foundation(s): Willmar Area
Award: 2018 WACF Innovative Impact Award
are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects
it – Edith Wharton. Not only do the Koosman’s reflect it, but they are the
torch that brought the community together to shine millions of lights on the
reason for the season.
amazing what inspiration and a little friendly competition can do, as evidenced
by the initial spark that ignited “Celebrate the Light of the World.” Chad Koosman
has always been driven to give back and make a difference, so he began
volunteering for the Salvation Army as a bell ringer. Soon enough a competition
that Captain Randy Stahl presented to ringers, challenged Chad to ringing bells
for up to 160 hours in one season. He began dreaming up ways to out-fundraise what
bell ringing brought in. He decided to collect donations for the Salvation Army
at his home, where he had a Christmas light display.
idea brought in $800 in donations that first year, but quickly snowballed into
nearly $20,000 the following year. As Chad continued to make the light display
bigger and better, the donations continued to grow. Celebrate the Light of the
World raised $810,000 in its first 10 years.
light display not only formed a sense of community, but also formed the Koosman
family itself. The lights brought Chad and Angie together, twinkled over their
engagement at the display, and their young daughter loved falling asleep to her
favorite “nightlight”. The Koosman’s have several cherished memories operating
Celebrate the Light, but both agree their favorite memories are the stories from
the community and the difference the
light display made.
they hand the torch over to Willmar Fests, Chad and Angie hope that Celebrate
the Light continues to grow while staying true to its roots and that even more
community members will make it a part of their traditions.
Koosmans will miss the generosity and kindness of the community, encompassing everything
from someone donating her last few pennies to the Marcus Construction family
stepping up to volunteer their time with several aspects of the display.
says that anyone wishing to give back should also have a bit of fun and
remember that, “It’s not just money that can change a life. Mentoring someone
can impact them even more.” Angie adds, “We
can all make a difference, whether it’s one penny, a dollar, or ten thousand
dollars. Focus on helping others and the great things we can do as a