Oh What a Night! 34th Bucks MACC Fund Game, a winner in every way, except 1 point OT loss

The 34th annual Bucks MACC Fund Game added another great chapter in the history of one of the League’s longest standing charitable relationships.  The MACC Fund took its first breath on the floor of the Milwaukee Arena on December 10, 1976 when the Milwaukee Bucks retired the familiar #14 jersey of Milwaukee’s “Original Buck,” the beloved “Jonny Mac” McGlocklin.  Teaming up with his good friend and the legendary and indefatigable Bucks radio announcer, Eddie Doucette – “The Duke of Dilemma” from his rock and roll radio days – the two dared to dream the dream of a cure by starting the MACC Fund to help kids like Karen and Brett Doucette’s little boy Brett who was diagnosed with leukemia when cure rates hovered precipitously around 20%.  Three decades later, the overall cure rate for childhood cancer rests around 80%.   Brett Doucette is 100%, married and living in Arizona.  

The 34th Bucks MACC Fund Game had all of the color and flair which the Bucks fans have become accustomed to.  Exciting NBA action plus the lights and sounds of nonstop action from the Bucks Hoop Troop, the Energee dancers, the “Macho Man” cam, BANGO and “Mini’Bango” and the ball throws.  From start to finish – well a one-point OT loss dampened the spirits a bit – it was a glorious night.

It started with kids 14 and under getting a great limited edition picture of fan favorites Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings.  The dynamic duo each autographed 1,000 of these great collectibles while on the recent Bucks road trip.  Talk about “going the extra mile!”  With this coveted souvenir in hand, the young fans rode the gleaming escalators to the top of the Bradley Center en route to the family fun-filled “KidsFest” sponsored by the great MACC Fund friends, the Chili’s Restaurants of Wisconsin.  Here the kids played games under the watchful eyes of the Waukesha Catholic Memorial Girls Soccer team. The team dedicated their efforts to Molly Burke, the young daughter of their fine Coach.  Molly is battling cancer with lots of support.  The games abounded with thrills and chills and lucky winners left with “Bucks bling” in hand including treasures like souvenir replica jerseys, head bands and miniballs.  Clowns painted little faces and skinny balloons molded into all sorts of things filled the concourse. The kids even got to decorate cookies and then they got to eat them!  Chili’s and the Bucks made sure all of the kids descended to their seats with memories galore.

Once seated, the Bucks fans watched the presentation of the honorary game ball.  Three-year-old Liam Merz clung to his dad Adam with his Bucks hat propped on his head as the adoring giants of the NBA awaited his pregame ball presentation. Liam was diagnosed with leukemia four months ago. Just think how Liam will enjoy watching the video of this precious presentation long after the memories of his cancer treatment fades.  The national anthem was sung by beautiful young girl who has all of the makings of a budding “American Idol” contestant down the road.  She captivated the appreciative crowd with her stunning rendition with the Bucks rookie standout Larry Sanders standing at attention at her side.

The Timberwolves were introduced. Former Marquette University star Lazar Hayward who wowed the Golden Eagles faithful for four years is a rookie on the TWolves following his selection as their #1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.  His great coach and MACC Fund supporter Buzz Williams watched the game following his team’s practice earlier in the night.  Some of “Zar’s” teammates showed up as well to watch their former teammate who was “living the dream” of playing in the NBA. 

Having introduced the opponents, the great Bucks PA announcer, Eric Jenson, passed the proverbial baton – or microphone in this case – to ten year-old Noah Polzin of Waukesha.  Noah is no stranger to the Bradley Center having presented the honorary game ball last year after meeting his favorite Buck, Andrew Bogut.  Noah, the 2009 TODAY’S TMJ4 MACC*Star designer, later gave Andrew an autographed copy of his 2009 design.  Noah introduced the Bucks Starting 5 with the style and flair of his “mike-mate mentor” Eric who watched his young protégée with a beaming smile as Noah’s introductions rose to a crescendo for his favorite

A N D R E W W W    B O G U T T T T.  Reluctantly, Noah surrendered his microphone to Eric as applause ensued.  An email from Joanie Novack, a dear friend of the MACC Fund and a mom whose son Brandon has battled cancer for 8 years, captured the moment – “Noah, little Noah has a potential new career!!!  He ‘slam dunked’ the intro and won the hearts of everyone in the Bradley Center.  He was awesome! WAY TO GO NOAH!!! And a perfect child to remind that crowd that despite going through the hell of cancer that this little boy will have a heck of a good life thanks to MACC & the BUCKS.  What a charmer!!!!!”  I couldn’t have said it better.
 

The Bucks took over the night, extending their lead to 20 points at times.  They played  under the watchful eye of their fine coach Scott Skiles as well as the grateful eyes of kids battling cancer who filled the seats and Suites thanks to generous friends of the Bucks and the MACC Fund.  Over 125 special guests were treated to a special night away from the MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  For these 48 minutes of exciting NBA action, the lab results and “pokes” were put on hold, for this special night at least. 

The MACC Fund’s wonderful friends from Trek Bicycle Corporation filled the time well after the first quarter with a presentation of June’s annual TREK 100 “Gift of Hope” through cycling. Trek’s Pat Sullivan who had an important role in the creation of the TREK 100 presented Jon McGlocklin with a check for $660,000.  This great gift brought the TREK 100 totals from 21 years of pedaling power to $9.5 million thanks to tens of thousands of dedicated riders, their generous supporters and wonderful volunteers who all share the incredible commitment to the children  of Trek Bicycle Corp. The truth be told, Pat’s adorable little daughter Gracie stole the show thanks to the watchful eye of the Bradley Center video director who made sure her precious face filled the great new Bradley Center HD screens as much as possible.  Gracie captured the hearts of all and put an exclamation point on another great TREK 100.

Halftime found the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) taking center stage following an introduction by longtime MACC Fund friend and TODAY’S TMJ4 Sports Anchor Lance Allan who served as the halftime’s Master of Ceremonies.  Jon McGlocklin once again thanked everyone with very special thanks to Bucks owner Senator Herb Kohl.  The WBCA was represented well by Coaches Caron Townsend, its president, Mike Huser, co-chair of the Boys All-Star Games and Ken Barrett who led the group the years and is now its Assistant to beloved Executive Director, Jerry Petitgoue.  Coach Townsend presented the check for $106,000 from the 2010 All-Star Games bringing the 33-year total of over $1.7 million.  Next to the Bucks, the WBCA is the longest standing MACC Fund sponsor.

And so it goes, another blog that is far too long from most standards according to those who set these standards, but one which barely scratches the surface of all of the goodness which filled the Bradley Center thanks to the generosity and commitment of Senator Herb Kohl and the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Senator looked especially proud when he visited the Bucks Suite filled with kids benefitting from his support of the MACC Fund. He was accompanied by Dave Margolis, the biggest Bucks fan and the son of the Senator’s dear friend.  Dave also happens to be one of the nation’s finest bone marrow transplant specialists plying his trade at one of the nation’s greatest hospitals, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin right here in Milwaukee.  The kids in the Suite were excited to see “Doctor Dave” in a Bucks jersey and not in his familiar shirt and tie with his Children’s Hospital lanyard and stethoscope.  I know Senator Kohl is as proud of his son’s accomplished friend as Dr. Margolis is proud of his dad’s generous friend.  

The time has come to close another chapter on another great Bucks MACC Fund Game.  My fingers are tired so I will let that mom who captured Noah’s work earlier close it out.  Who better to capture the importance of a basketball game to help kids fighting cancer and blood disorders than a mom who has lived with it every day for the past 8 years when her first born got the diagnosis every parent fears.  She writes, eloquently as always, as only a mom can: “Just think of how many more kids will get to snuggle up next to their moms and dads on their couch with the Fleet Farm Toyland Catalog with excitement in their eyes and loud, tiny voices as they turn each page screaming “I want that, I want that” with each page full of circled items for their wish list… I remember those days so well and my wish is that each family hearing those awful words, “your child has cancer” gets to enjoy those precious moments.  Last night, with the support of the BUCKS, MACC is closer to making that wish come true for all families!!  What a great night for all!!!!!! 

Indeed. 

Thanks Senator Kohl and your entire Bucks “team” – from the front office to the locker room – and to the living rooms of your wonderful season ticket holders and fans who have embraced the MACC Fund and the kids as well.  “Thanks a Million, Bucks!”

~John Cary – Executive Director

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