Happy Birthday MACC Fund, 34 years and going strong

Friday, December 10 is the 34th Birthday of the MACC Fund.  The MACC Fund is all about birthdays since each signals another year of life which is a milestone for the children with cancer and blood disorders to whom the MACC Fund is dedicated to helping. 

The MACC Fund began on the Milwaukee Arena floor during a Milwaukee Bucks game 34 years ago on a night honoring “The Original Buck,” Jon McGlocklin.  Jon and his dear friend Eddie Doucette, the colorful Bucks announcer who nicknamed Jon “Jonny Mac,” founded the MACC Fund to provide Hope to children like little Brett Doucette.  Brett is Karen and Eddie’s son who is now married and is living in Arizona.  The MACC Fund’s first “success story” was diagnosed with leukemia 35 years ago. 

Little did Jon and Eddie know on that December night warmed by the bright lights of the Milwaukee Arena that we would be celebrating the MACC Fund’s birthday 34 years later.  They never dreamed that the MACC Fund would donate $39 million for an incredible “Gift of Hope” during this time. These gifts have played an important role in helping to raise the overall cure rate for childhood cancer from 20% to 80% thanks to tens of thousands of donors, volunteers and thousands of events. 

They certainly never dreamed that the gifts to research to the Medical College of Wisconsin over a 5-year period in the 21st century would total $5.6 million.  That amount of money undoubtedly would have seemed incomprehensible in the 20th century. What is even more remarkable is that that investment has yielded 48 National Institutes of Health grants totaling $21.4 million in extramural research support. How’s that for an impressive return on investment – in children!

Lots of things have changed over the past 34 years – especially and thankfully – the overall cure rate.  But some things have stayed the same, namely the resolve of all those who care for the children and are dedicated to curing these diseases.  Thanks to all who have joined the fight which Jon and Eddie have led as the standard bearers for 34 years. Special thanks are in order as well to John Steinmiller, Vice President of Business Operation of the Bucks who helped lay the seeds in 1976 and has continued to cultivate them through the generosity of Senator Herb Kohl, the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks who graciously and generously continued the support which his predecessor Jim Fitzgerald began on the December night in 1976.  All of the state’s teams joined in to help the children including the Brewers, the Packers, the Admirals, the Wave, Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee as well as countless college and high school teams.  Leading the way for the high schools were the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association since 1978 with their annual Boys and Girls All-Star Games. 

So here’s to the MACC Fund, to all of the children, to the incredibly talented and dedicated researchers and staff, to the physicians, nurses and wonderful staff, to the event participants, the volunteers, donors, sponsors, friends, the media of all sorts who spread the word, and of course to the founders, Jon and Eddie, who dared to dream the dream of a “Gift of Hope.” Happy 34th Birthday MACC Fund. 

Through all of the celebrations, we never forget that we support research to honor those who have died.  Thanks for celebrating the MACC Fund’s 34th Birthday by being part of its “Gift of Hope” through Research.  Please consider giving a special birthday “Gift of Hope” by visiting www.maccfund.org and clicking on “Donate” at the top.  

 “Happy Birthday dear MACC Fund, Happy Birthday to you!”

~John Cary, Executive Director

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30 years of Hope with TODAY’S TMJ4

TODAY’S TMJ4  has been part of the MACC Fund from its beginning on the Milwaukee Arena floor during a Milwaukee Bucks game which included a ceremony to retire Jon McGlocklin’s familiar #14.  That was December 10, 1976.

TODAY’S TMJ4 became a sponsor in 1981 when it presented MACC*THON on Saturday, December 19.  The new 6-hour telethon featured remote broadcasts from throughout the city as well as live presentations in the television studios in Radio City on Capitol Drive. A star-studded cast of local celebrities joined hosts Jon McGlocklin and Terry Meeuwsen in Studio A to help a child with cancer.  “Mr. Baseball,” Bob Uecker, hosted high school aquatic events at the Schroeder Aquatic Center.  (In later MACC*ATHONS, Uecker would host his own “Uecker Tonight” segments patterned after NBC’s Tonight Show with Johnny Carson who welcomed Bob frequently as a guest.)  That first MACC*ATHON featured patients and their parents who were interviewed along with the caregivers who were dedicated to helping them.  It was a spectacular night of 6 hours of live, local television.

MACC*ATHON ultimately went from 6 hours to 2.5 hours and continued for 16 more years before giving way to the current incarnation of live broadcasts, the two-hour live TODAY’S TMJ4 Sports Auction 4 MACC.

The 14th TODAY’S TMJ4 Sports Auction 4 MACC will celebrate 30 years of Hope on Saturday, December 11 from Noon – 2 PM. TODAY’S TMJ4’s Mike Jacobs and Carole Meekins will host the live two hour production which will take place in TODAY’S TMJ4’S Studio D.  Lance Allan of the TODAY’S TMJ4 Sports Team will be a “color commentator” and News Radio WTMJ’S Jonathan Green, a professional auctioneer, is the Sports Auction’s “MACCtioneer.”  Jonathan will retire after a great radio career which spanned more than four decades, most of which were at WTMJ Radio. A cast of MACC Fund volunteers will take bids on 25 sports related items.  

In addition to MACC*THON and the Sports Auction 4 MACC, TODAY’S TMJ4 also produced 30-minute special broadcasts as well as a series of 1-minute “Story of Hope” vignettes which are now shown during regular programming throughout the year.

The TODAY’S TMJ4 MACC*Star has been a staple of the holiday season since 1988.  With the exception of the inaugural year, the round porcelain ornament with the familiar star design inside has been designed by a child who has benefitted from the cancer and blood disorder research which the MACC Fund supports.  This year’s TODAY’S TMJ4 MACC*Star was designed by 7-year-old Emile Janzen of Pewaukee. 

Thirty years is a long time to be together in any venture. In television it is an eternity.  Little did anyone know then that the relationship between the MACC Fund and TODAY’S TMJ4 would be as strong and vital as it is 30 years later. This great relationship is unmatched on the local broadcast scene and undoubtedly on the national scene as well. 

~ John Cary, Executive Director

Aaron Rodgers “Gets It”

Aaron and Brandon

Aaron and Brandon

You can tell a lot about a people by the way they talk, act and write.  A kind word, a smile and a memorable phrase give us a glimpse into a person. The phrase “Brandon, thanks for being an inspiration to me” referring to a 20-year-old who has battled cancer for 8 years is an inscription accompanying the autograph of the Packers’ impressive quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.  It was not your traditional “Best Wishes” to be sure, but it tells you something about Aaron Rodgers.  

Fans of the National Football League know about Aaron’s winning actions on the field. Some friends of the MACC Fund know a little about him off the field as well since he makes a point of helping the MACC Fund help kids. 

The most recent occasion of this impressive commitment to helping the children was “A Pack Lunch with Aaron Rodgers” held at a “Packers Party House” in the shadows of Lambeau Field on an appropriately named street – “Shadow Lane” on a chilly December 4. The nice folks at Robinson Metals offered the MACC Fund their great Packers themed venue complete with a giant Lombardi Trophy in the yard to raise funds while spreading the mission of the MACC Fund to help the children. Aaron’s fine business and management team from RBSH Enterprises teamed up with the MACC Fund and its great friend, Greg Klimek of Green Bay, for this unique “Lunch Hour” which was generously sponsored by Wells Fargo Private Banking. Aaron made time in his busy schedule on the Saturday before the 49ers game to join the crowd of 60 or so people who came together on Shadow Lane with him to help the MACC Fund.

Brandon, a junior at UW-Green Bay, will long remember meeting the quarterback whom he admired from afar. His admiration has grown since the signal caller decided to help the MACC Fund earlier this year. It was apparent by Aaron’s inscription on Brandon’s white-paneled Packers commemorative football that his battle against cancer caught the attention of the field general who knows something about battling an aggressive opponent. It was readily apparent for all to see as Aaron met Brandon wearing a 2010 Pro Bowl replica #12 Rodgers jersey. The difference is the gravity of the battles they face. Brandon has been in a battle for his life since he was in seventh grade.  Like Aaron, he is winning. Everyone was touched when Brandon said “I believe I am alive today because of the MACC Fund.” He says that a lot. It strikes us each time he says it.  It is a reminder of the important work we are fortunate to do along with friends like you.

The Pro Bowler touched the hearts of those who joined him across the street from his place of work on Lombardi Avenue.  As the 27-year-old QB graciously waited patiently with a slight smile in the awkward moments as the autograph line stopped to join in singing a 2-day belated “Happy Birthday Dear Aaron, Happy Birthday to You,” a man was overheard saying “He gets it.” 

Indeed.  Aaron does “get it” on the field as national commentators and pigskin experts assert; and from what we have seen from his time helping the children through the MACC Fund, he also “gets it” off the field. Undoubtedly he has athletic greatness about him, but that greatness is not limited to actions which take place between the lines. His athleticism doesn’t limit his desire to help others as the MACC Fund and its friends have seen this year. In fact, it seems to magnify it.   

So when you cheer Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on the field, remember that like you, he is inspired by a child or a young person battling cancer. We know that because we just saw it firsthand. He showed it with kind words, a smile, a hand shake and an inscription along with his autograph for a newfound friend whose 8-year battle with cancer beats anything that Aaron will encounter on the field.  “Brandon, thanks for being an inspiration to me” is a refreshing turnabout in the world of role models. Aaron truly “gets it.”

Brandon, and many other kids, inspire me too. And I know by your generous actions over the 34-years of the MACC Fund that they inspire you as well. We invite you to visit www.maccfund.org and consider clicking on DONATE to show your support. In this season of giving, it truly is the gift that keeps on giving for it is “A Gift of Hope through Research” to a child with cancer or a blood disorder. 

Thanks to you. And Aaron, thanks for your “Gift of Hope” through your “Gift of Time.”  Go Pack Go! 

~John Cary – Executive Director

Candy Cane Lane in West Allis, 25 years of brightly colored Holiday Hope

The first measurable snow of the season has officially arrived along with the meteorological start of winter.  Candy Cane Lane in West Allis  is aglow with holiday lights and seasonal displays to delight kids of all ages.  For 25 years the incredible neighbors in the area bounded by 92nd and 96th Street and Oklahoma and Manitoba have delighted visitors from throughout the metro area with the sights and sounds of the holidays offering a million dollar Gift of Hope through Research.  We invited you to take a ride down Candy Cane Lane. 

For many, it will be a ride down ‘”Memory Lane'” for the children who can now cruise the lane themselves.  We promise that you won’t be disappointed since the neighbors have lit up the night in fine fashion to celebrate 25 years of Hope.  The children of all ages and two generations join the MACC Fund in saying ‘”thanks'” to the wonderful neighbors on Candy Cane Lane.  Last year the nickels, dimes, quarter and currency added up to an $85,000 colorful Gift of Hope.  All that is missing to top that great total in this 25th Silver Anniversary Year is you and your ‘”silver.'”  We invite you to experience Candy Cane Lane each night.  We once again thank the neighbors, generous donors, volunteers and celebrity guests for making this holiday season a candy-coated, brightly colored Gift of Hope to children with cancer and blood disorders.

~John Cary, Executive Director

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