Candy Cane Lane Leader honored for Lifetime Achievement

Candy Cane Lane leader honored for Lifetime Achievement in West Allis

Ron Ziolecki helped make magical Christmas dreams come true and for over two decades was an important leader of the team which provided miles of smiles on Candy Cane Lane in West Allis as part of the “Sharing Christmas” program. Ron was honored on February 18 at the annual West Allis/West Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. He received the Chamber’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his efforts coordinating over two decades of Candy Cane Lane. Ron had to retire from his duties a few years ago due to health reasons and has been replaced by a dedicated group of neighborhood volunteers.

Ron worked with the neighbors to produce Candy Cane Lane which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010. Thanks to the efforts of the neighbors who joined Ron, the generous sponsors and the thousands of visitors to Candy Cane Lane, a $1 Million Plus Gift of Holiday Hope was given to the MACC Fund to support research for childhood cancer and blood disorders research.

In addition to the Chamber’s award, Ron also received commendations from Governor Scott Walker, West Allis Mayor Dan Devine and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. Mayor Devine said how a trip down Candy Cane Lane was becoming a holiday tradition for his two boys. Governor Walker’s representative said the Governor told her that visiting Candy Cane Lane was an annual highlight for his family during the holidays.

During his decades of service, Ron was never complacent with past success. He was always looking for new and better ideas to encourage people to share Christmas on Candy Cane Lane. In addition to months and month of planning, Ron stood for hours in all kinds of weather for a month following Thanksgiving collecting funds for the MACC Fund’s life saving work inspired in part by his niece’s death to cancer as a child. Ron’s wonderful wife Bev was always in the background encouraging Ron to help the MACC Fund help kids. Ron’s cousin and longtime MACC Fund volunteer, Mike Moze, joined Ron every night as well. Hundreds of neighbors joined in by decorating their houses and helping in many others ways.

Ron also received the Golden Rule Award ten years ago. He used the Chamber’s award as an opportunity to complete some unfinished business which bothered him from the Golden Rule Award. Ron told me during Friday night’s reception that he always felt badly that ten years ago he inadvertently neglected to thank MACC Fund Development Officer Colleen Moran for all of her efforts working with him on Candy Cane Lane. Ron made up for lost time and put to rest his disappointment by acknowledging Colleen’s diligence and commitment in his acceptance remarks. Colleen could not attend since she was home taking care of her newborn son and his big sister. She was deeply touched by it when I texted her during the presentation and followed up with a phone call the next morning.

Congratulations Ron on your well deserved award honoring a lifetime of service to West Allis including a wonderful Holiday Gift of Hope for children with cancer and blood disorders. Thanks as well to all of the wonderful neighbors who live on Candy Cane Lane along with the sponsors and donors for donating more than $1 million to help the MACC Fund help kids.

Two Nice Guys Finish First

Two “Nice Guys” finish first!
Aaron Rodgers and Mark Wilson win big
while helping the MACC Fund help kids beat cancer

I wrote a blog entitled “Nice Guys Finish FIRST” a few weeks ago. I wrote the counter position to baseball’s Leo Durocher’s oft-used phrase “Nice guys finish last.” I wrote that blog after the MACC Fund’s longtime friend and Honorary Athletic Board Member Mark Wilson won the Sony Hawaiian Open. Well, you may have noticed, Mark won again at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Monday, February 7 in a dramatic two hole Playoff. I say “you may have noticed” since his impressive victory – his second in three starts on the PGA Tour – coincided with the afterglow of the Packers Super Bowl victory which managed to attract the highest rated television show in history.

Well, Mark’s friends at the MACC Fund noticed as we switched back and forth between watching Mark on the course and watching his fellow MACC Fund Honorary Athletic Board Member Aaron Rodgers on the field. I understand that one person even caused his familial Super Bowl party to miss Nick Collins’ dramatic “pick 6” interception since he was setting his DVR to ensure the later viewing of Mark’s exploits. Fortunately the marvels of technology allowed for a touchdown replay to the delight and cheering of all.

Mark’s victory is the talk of the PGA Tour as he sits atop the FedEx Cup standings with a significant lead. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Congratulations to Mark and Amy and their sons Lane and Cole who attended their first golf tournament and got to watch their dad hold the coveted trophy. Rumor has it though that Lane was more impressed with the Junior Firefighter badge the firefighter gave him. Kids do have a way of keeping us humble.

Mark wasn’t the only “nice guy” who finished first recently as we all know following the Packers victory. It proved that lighting can strike twice, or in this case three times, for nice guys. Like Mark, Aaron has embraced the MACC Fund in his quest to help the children battling cancer and blood disorders.

Mark is known for not watching the scoreboard as he plays, but we are betting that he kept track of his beloved Packers as he played on Sunday. A life long Packers fan having grown up in Menomonee Falls, Wis., he showed his love of the Packers by wearing a green shirt and a gold PING visor on Sunday. He and his caddy even wore matching “Cheeseheads” on the raucous 16th hole where cheering and jeering in the normally sedate golf environs is a thing of legendary proportions.

Both Mark and Aaron got to hoist championship trophies. Mark got to take his home and Aaron helped bring the Lombardi Trophy back to its rightful home in true championship and MVP form. He even “went to Disney World” on Monday and jetted north to join David Letterman 24 hours after the big win before returning to his adopted Titletown home to the cheering throngs on the appropriately named “Frozen Tundra” where 56,000 assembled in minus 9 win chill conditions to honor Aaron and his teammates.

Yes, Mark and Aaron are both nice guys. They are both winners. And they both love to help the MACC Fund help kids fighting cancer and blood disorders. Both sit atop their respective sports after years and years of practicing their crafts which undoubtedly involved tears as well as cheers to get there. It couldn’t happen to two better guys and the MACC Fund is proud to have them both on the MACC Fund team. Congratulations Aaron and Mark. The world knows what the MACC Fund already knew, you’re both winners and you have proven that the well worn phrase “Nice guys finish last” is wrong. “Nice Guys can finish first” like you did and the MACC Fund couldn’t be prouder of you both. Thanks for helping the MACC Fund help kids.

~John Cary – Executive Director

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