June’s graduation parties and weddings are always special

June is a time for graduation parties and weddings (and allegedly nice, warm weather). Saturday found us in Fond du Lac for the high school graduation party of our great nephew. It was such a nice time as the families of four high school buddies came together to celebrate this milestone in a park. It is a scene which takes place in small towns and big cities throughout our great country. It is a scene however which families whose children have been touched by cancer and blood disorders never take for granted. Graduations, like Proms and Homecomings are always special for these young people. Sadly, far too many never get the chance to have their graduation party which reminds us once again that we support research to honor those who have died.

Following this very special event, we headed south to attend the wedding reception of a very special young woman whom I have had the good fortune to know since her days as a toddler. Now a beautiful 31-year-old, she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancerous tumors behind the eye, to the layman) when she was 3 months.

Nothing was said of her battle with cancer as an infant, yet there was a heartfelt reference to the MACC Fund. You knew from what her dad, a beloved member of the MACC Fund family, said – which was affirmed by the approving nod of his wonderful wife – that their hearts were full of gratitude to the researchers and the doctors and nurses who cared so lovingly for their little girl that this day which they always dreamed of was here. One can’t help but think of the range of emotions from looking back to that fateful day when they learned that their beautiful baby of three months had cancer to the image of her walking down the aisle as a 31-year-old bride with her dad on her arm. Ironically, the beautiful bride’s proud husband is a pediatric neurology researcher working in the MACC Fund Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin specializing in epilepsy.

June is indeed a month filled with graduation parties and weddings. They may be commonplace for most, but for those whose life has been touched by cancer or a blood disorder as a child, they are never taken for granted.

John Cary, Executive Director

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A Day to Remember for the WBCA Boys All Stars

The Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) has been a wonderful supporter of the MACC Fund since the inception of the WBCA All-Star Games in 1978. The WBCA’s Girls and Boys All-Star Games held at the venerable UW Fieldhouse in Madison on June 17 and 18 respectively featured the top high school graduates in the state. This year’s record donation of $130,000 raises the 34-year total to $1.8 million.

One of the highlights each year for the players, coaches and the MACC Fund is the visit to the UW Hospitals and Clinics where the Girls and Boys teams hear from Dr. Paul Sondel, the charismatic leader of the University’s pediatric hematology, oncology, transplant service. This year was no exception when the Girls arrived on Thursday afternoon to hear about the research their fund-raising efforts supported. Following Dr. Sondel’s presentation, the girls heard from a girl one year younger than them who has spent her high school years dealing with cancer having been diagnosed with osteosarcoma as an eighth grader. This young woman was inspirational in every way and undoubtedly left a lasting impression on the teams just like she did on this writer. It is not easy to stand in front of a group of your peers and talk about cancer, but this lovely young woman did with a style and grace which belied her teenage years.

The Boys turn to hear from Dr. Sondel followed on Friday. The auditorium filled quickly and the program proceeded in the expected way highlighted by Dr. Sondel’s understated excellence which quickly captured the attention of the largely teenage audience. Dr. Sondel spoke of the illustrious history of the UW Cancer Center and noted, as he does every year, that the first bone marrow transplant was performed at UW in 1967 by Dr. Fritz Bach. The reference to that great accomplishment was different this year however. To the surprise and delight of all, Dr. Bach was a guest of Dr. Sondel’s in the auditorium. Dr. Sondel followed the commentary showing a picture of this legendary medical pioneer by introducing him to the surprised crowd.

A spontaneous standing ovation ensued to the delight of Dr. Bach’s proud student, and to the embarrassment – to some degree – of Dr. Bach whose stature as a scientific icon exceeded the stature of a room full of basketball players. When the applause finally stopped and everyone was seated, Dr. Bach quietly told the group that the acclaimed accomplishment was one of a team of people just like they were part of a team. Few in the room will ever forget this special meeting, to be sure.

Dr. Sondel’s presentation ended with the introduction of a young man who was a year older than the audience he was addressing. He spoke articulately about his diagnosis of osteosarcoma while he was preparing to play in a football game for the state sectional as a high school junior. He never got to play in that game or in the following state championship game. He never played football again. His story hit home with the young athletes preparing to play in their final game associated with high school, the WBCA All-Star Games.

Dr. Sondel’s fine presentation, the young guest speaker’s eloquence and the chance meeting with the iconic Dr. Bach undoubtedly created a lasting memory for the players and coaches. Dr. Bach is now 77. It is hard to imagine that his pioneering transplant which changed the course of cancer care for generations was accomplished when he was only 33 years old. Imagine the years of preparation and study which led to that in a world where today’s world of computers wasn’t even a dream. It makes the transplant which preceded man’s first steps on the moon by two years even more amazing. Dr. Bach’s vision and the courage to pursue it changed the world for those fighting cancer. Now bone marrow transplants help cure diseases beyond cancer.

Ironically Dr. James Naismith, who became a physician after creating the game of basketball which brought these players and coaches to Dr. Sondel’s presentation, was only 30 years old when he nailed the peach baskets to the wall giving birth to basketball. The similarities between the world changing efforts of these two physicians was not lost on the appreciative Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association’s Boys All-Star teams. They will leave Madison with memories of their All-Star week which extend far beyond the iconic UW Fieldhouse hardwood on which they ply their trade.

Dr. Naismith would be proud of these modern day basketball players. Dr. Bach will undoubtedly remember for years to come the standing ovation by an auditorium filled with players and coaches who joined together to raise funds for the MACC Fund to support the work of one of his prize students, Dr. Paul Sondel. A student whose acclaim extends beyond the borders of the United States and who, like his mentor, is continually looking for better ways to treat people battling cancer.

It was quite a day, indeed. Thanks to Dr. Bach for having the courage to dream, to Dr. Sondel for embracing that dream and to the WBCA Girls and Boys All-Star teams for extending their excellence on Dr. Naismith’s basketball court to support the MACC Fund by raising funds for Dr. Sondel’s outstanding UW research team research which continues to be inspired by a pioneering mentor, Dr. Fritz Bach. It certainly was quite a day.

John Cary, Executive Director

WBCA Girls and Boys All-Star Basketball Games on Friday and Saturday at UW Back MACC

The Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) has been a wonderful supporter of the MACC Fund since the inception of the WBCA All-Star Games in 1978. The WBCA’s Girls and Boys All-Star Games will be held at the venerable UW Fieldhouse in Madison on June 17 and 18 respectively featuring the top high school graduates in the state. Tickets will be available at the Fieldhouse for games which will take place throughout Friday and Saturday.

In addition to being the best on the court, the players and the coaches excel off the hardwood as well. Players in the state’s five divisions raise funds to benefit the MACC Fund and help children with cancer and related blood disorders. Many generous sponsors, donors and fans will help the WBCA contribute important research dollars to the MACC Fund through the 34th Annual Games. The impressive grand total through the previous 33 games is $1.7 million.

The Coach’s Association is the second longest sustaining sponsor of the MACC Fund following the Milwaukee Bucks which helped in the MACC Fund’s creation during a game at the milwaukee Arena in 1976. Their outstanding fund raising total of $1.7 excluding the 2011 games is the third highest in MACC Fund history following the TREK 100 and Women for MACC.

In addition to playing in the iconic UW Fieldhouse, the players will have a chance to visit with Dr. Paul Sondel who heads the pediatric cancer efforts at the nationally renowned UW Carbone Cancer Research Center. Dr. Sondel, an internationally acclaimed scientist / physician, will speak to the players while they are in Madison. He will be joined by two young students battling cancer who will relate their experiences to the players and coaches to “put a face on the MACC Fund” and their special efforts to support it. The MACC Fund has committed $6.5 million to support research in Madison since the mid 1980s. That research is conducted in the 14,000 square foot MACC Fund Childhood Cancer Research Wing in the Wisconsin Interdisciplinary Medical Research Center (WIMR) of the University of Wisconsin.

The MACC Fund thanks Mike Huser and Tony Scallon, co-chairmen of the Boys’ games, as well as the Girls’ co-chairs, Loren Homb and Sam Mathieson for their dedication and support as the Games Co-Chairs. In addition, the MACC Fund extends its thanks to all of the WBCA coaches, its Executive Committee including its longtime Executive Director Jerry Petitgoue, and Assistant to the Director and Past President Ken Barrett.

Head on over to the Fieldhouse if you are looking for some great hardcourt hoops. You can’t beat the best in high school basketball, especially if it helps the MACC Fund help kids. Thanks a Million, coaches!

The 22nd Annual TREK100 Cranked for a Cure

The 22nd annual TREK 100 held on June 11 was another success in a long line of great Rides. The MACC Fund is so fortunate to be able to have such an incredible partnership with the company that has forged the leading name in cycling, Trek Bicycle Corp. of Waterloo, Wis. Trek opened its doors once again for the Ride for Hope which signals the official start of summer each year for the MACC Fund – and many others.

The disappointing spring weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the 2,200 riders who showed up bright and early to Ride for Hope. Their training may have been cut short by Mother Nature, but they all knew they would be supported by hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers from Trek and the MACC Fund and by the best bike mechanics around as well. They were welcomed by towns and municipalities which offered their services for four courses measuring 19, 36, 62 (100k) and 100 miles. Very early morning rains cleared away before the first riders left Trek’s impressive headquarters following a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by Laura McGonagle who shares her great gift with the TREK 100 every year.

Before they left they met Christopher who was recently diagnosed with cancer and quietly sat in a wheelchair as his “Cruisin’ for Christopher” team rode by flanked with hundreds of newfound friends who were touched by his poignant story. The riders saw a familiar face in Brandon who is entering his senior year in college and once again told the riders “If it wasn’t for you supporting the MACC Fund, I wouldn’t be here today.” His words always touch the riders. So do Cindy’s who spoke of her beloved Cheri who thanked the riders for the last time in 2002 shortly before her fourth bone marrow transplant. She died about three weeks later but her spirit lives on in the TREK 100 and all the MACC Fund does. Cheri’s dad, adorned in orange, her favorite color, made sure the riders set off in an orderly manner once again this year.

The day was long, but it was oh so worth it. Arriving from a nearby hotel at 3:45 AM, the staff did their best to convince themselves and each other that it wasn’t really raining. It worked for a while, but a steady rain spoiled those thoughts. Just as quick as it started, the rain stopped never to be seen again once the first riders headed out at 7:30 to the sounds of early-rising members of the Rose Bowl experienced UW Band. They serenaded each colorful wave of riders with crowd favorites. More than half of the states were represented as well as several countries.

Each year, I get to mingle with the appreciative riders while doing my duties of emptying the trash boxes. Some observers might say that this is my true level of competence. It offers a chance to thank the people while also doing unscientific research gaining valuable insights into their riding experience. Almost to a person, the comments are positive. Remarkably they include the riders offering thanks for helping to give them this great ride. That is always amazing and serves as a tribute to Trek and its fine team as well as to Colleen Moran who does such an incredible job of leading the MACC Fund’s efforts. Unflappable, she always deflects attention to others in the spirit of “servant leadership.” Insiders know who makes it happen for the TREK 100 from the MACC side though. Words can’t thank this mother of 2 enough for her dedication to the MACC Fund which started the day after she graduated from college 18 years ago. She looked like a happy mom holding her 4-month-old Patrick who joined his big sister Mary for a visit to Trek where their Dad works “riding bikes.” This popular little twosome helped brighten an already bright day.

Walking through the crowd tending to the trash, I met an incredibly fit 72-year-old who has ridden in every TREK 100. This year he was joined by his 14-year-old grandson who was visiting his grandpa from Utah. The boy listened patiently as I urged him to treasure every moment with his grandpa. Grandpas have a way of looking out for each other. Grandpa beamed as his grandson’s proud daughter stood by admiring her dad as well. Grandpa wanted him to do this ride because it was so good and was so special for what it accomplished each year.

There was another TREK 100 veteran who has a perfect dance card as well who fit in the 2011 edition before making the 3.5 hour ride to Hudson, Wis. for a 3:30 PM wedding. Virtually nothing, he said, would keep him from riding in the TREK 100 and helping the MACC Fund like he has since 1988 when he was the beloved principal of Shorewood High School. That started ongoing support from the impressive high school which continues today. There was couple who traveled from Illinois and watched in wonder after their ride. The thousands who gathered support the work of this wonderfully gifted clinician who cares for the children whom the MACC Fund is dedicated to helping. She was joined by a gracefully aging cancer researcher/clinician pioneer who rides nearly every year and was affectionately known as “Dr. Peanut Butter” by Teddy, a member of the MACC Fund Angels.

There was an octogenarian who rides each year as well. He enjoyed the fun surrounded by youthful admirers. He was joined by a spry sexagenarian who took up the riding challenge after talking to a mom whose child is a cancer survivor. They attended “An Evening With Aaron Rodgers” for the MACC Fund a mere 25 days ago. He went from 0 to 25 miles (he circled back to his original riding group several times) in 1.47:00 while raising several thousand dollars in the process. This affable “60 Something” has had special place in his generous heart for the MACC Fund for over a quarter century. Having him with us for this big event was an added gift.

It is always a special treat to see our friend who was recently promoted to General in the Indiana National Guard. Several years ago, he rode his own TREK 100 while serving in Iraq as a Colonel. Whether in Iraq, where he served twice, or in Indiana, each year he raises thousands of dollars to help the MACC Fund help kids. This meeting found his arm in a sling from a “bad decision” on his part earlier in the day. He raved about the SAG (TREK 100 course support) help, the local hospital in Columbus and all who cared for him along the way. A friend of his serving in Afghanistan is doing his TREK 100 there now following in this special TREK 100 tradition. Joining our friend were riders supporting the “Wounded Warriors.”

There were family reunions and colorfully clad teams enjoying well-deserved carbo-reloading moments. A young couple counting down the final months of their engagement returned from their ride and spent the rest of the day helping out. They walked through the crowd passing out ice cream bars to grateful riders as a harbinger of their walk up the aisle in two months as husband and wife. There was an ageless grandmother who watched over the food tent all day as only a mom turned grandma can. She smiled endlessly as appreciative riders – whose day started with fresh pancakes on the griddle – marveled at the fare presented to them by accomodating volunteers clad in their red TREK 100 shirts.

Through it all, “Road Trip” entertained the relaxing riders from a giant stage. This enormous wonder somehow folded into a semi-trailer after its work day ended. Although it didn’t do its disappearing act until four lucky raffle winners won three great prizes including a Madone and a weekend at Trek’s beautiful Mansion Hill Inn compliments of the genial and generous host, Trek Bicycle Corp.

The final rider rode in about 6:15 PM. The MACC Fund crew thanked the dedicated volunteers who remained and got back in their seven Ryder trucks about a half hour later, some 15 hours after arriving full of hope for another great day while undoubtedly quietly praying for a good day. The prayers were answered and everyone departed knowing that kids with cancer and related blood disorders were well served.

The fun and fund-raising isn’t over though. The inaugural TREK 100 on-line auction kicks off in a few days. It includes once-in-a lifetime items from Trek for the Tour de France and the Tour de California as well as exciting behind the scenes items for the Milwaukee Bucks and the UW football Badgers. Check out http://www.trek100.org for more information.

The 2011 TREK 100 is now another important part of the great History of Hope that that is the TREK 100, the largest fund-raiser in the MACC Fund’s impressive 35-year history. The previous 21 Rides have raised over $9.2 million. That incredible $10 million mark looms on the horizon and the on-line auction provides an extra chance to hit it. Whether it is reached this year or next, one thing is certain – the children, their family, friends, caregivers and dedicated researchers all have two words for the Trek Bicycle Corp. and everyone who was part of the 2011 TREK 100 – “Thank you!”

John Cary, Executive Director

The 22nd Annual TREK 100 Rides Again for Hope

The eve of the TREK 100 is always a special night. We prepare for the TREK 100 throughout the year with added emphasis as each new year starts. The MACC Fund is blessed beyond words with an incredible sponsor like Trek Bicycle Corp. as the wonderful title sponsor. The 22nd TREK 100 will roll out of Trek’s impressive headquarters at 7:30 AM tomorrow. Nearly 2,200 riders have accepted Trek’s heartfelt invitation to “pedal for a purpose” and “ride for hope” over the four routes ranging from 19 miles to 100 miles.

The routes are marked and the volunteers and riders have their alarms set for early wake ups. The stage is set for another great ride. Rest stops staffed by enthusiastic volunteers will be brimming with all kinds of food and refreshments. Trek’s impressive Wrench Force will work with local dealers to help riders in need along the route which will be patrolled by support vehicles ready to help. The town’s people in the area surrounding Trek’s Waterloo site will cheer on the riders who will join in the special day under the watchful eye of the police and sheriffs.

Some of the riders will wear special T-shirts with pictures of a loved one who have died. Each rider will leave under the guidance of a dad who travels the back roads with his wife to help start the riders off safely as he has done for years even though their beloved traveling companion no longer rides next to them, but always rides with them. As he lines up the riders for each wave of bikes, he can be heard telling those close to him about his Angel who battled cancer for 13 years reminding us that we support research to honor those who have died.

Jon McGlocklin will welcome the riders the day after his birthday and nearly 35 years after he and Eddie Doucette started the MACC Fund during a Milwaukee Bucks game. Jon will watch in awe as thousands of riders and hundreds of volunteers answer the call once again this year as tens of thousands have since that humble beginning on the Milwaukee Arena floor 34 and a half years ago today. Jon will be the first to tell you that he and Eddie never dreamed so many would take up the charge like John Burke, the President of Trek Bicycle Corp. has. Thank God John and his passionate Bicycle Company associates did since the annual Ride is speeding toward the $10 million mark in funds raised.

The riders will hear from Brandon, a 21-year-old who credits them and the MACC Fund with the life he now enjoys. It is a life that seemed like a dream when he was diagnosed before Christmas nearly 9 years ago. Brandon will ride with great his family once again. Fifteen-year-old Nick will join Brandon on stage as a cancer survivor before setting off on his 9th Trek 100.

The wave of riders in colors of every hue will fill the beautiful country roads amidst the rich farmland. The land will be even richer on this special day as riders taking the time to care ride past on their 2-wheeled miracle machines which help power some of the world’s finest research.

An abundance of food, refreshments and music will await the riders return to Trek. The MACC Fund’s dedicated staff will be supplemented by caring volunteers with the goal of doing all they can do to help make it a memorable day for the riders who will be helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. I find myself thinking of many things on the eve of this great day. Concern for the weather dominates much of the thought which is pretty funny considering we have little say in the matter. In addition, past TREK 100s come to mind along with so many of the familiar faces I hope to see. Some will have to be seen in memories since they have passed on but not without leaving an incredible mark on so many people.

This year I will also be thinking of a very special young girl whom I was blessed to meet recently. I knew she was special before she said a word. So was her mom. After talking with the mom for a while, I learned that her daughter’s time was limited – “borrowed time” as she said. There was nothing more they could do for her she told me as tears welled in her eyes. Borrowed time. It should never be used to describe a 14-year-old. Our work is far from over as this phrase aptly reminds us. But I have come to learn that even on borrowed time there is always Hope. The TREK 100 offers Hope thanks to the generosity of Trek Bicycle Corp., its supporting sponsors and the thousands of riders and hundreds of volunteers who once again accepted Trek’s invitation to “Ride for Hope.”

Our Hearts Burst with Gratitude – Trek 100 Ride for Hope

Hi there—Lora here. Just taking a quick couple moments out of Trek 100 preparations to give you all props.

Seriously.

I’ve been watching our staff (all 7 of us, 8, if you count our amazing volunteer, Dee who puts together all of the rider packets) get ready for this event for the last six months. We work hard, there’s no doubt, but the theme that’s really been prominent, especially these last two weeks is this:

                     Without you–Trek Bicycle Corporation, volunteers, riders, and donors–
                                                This. Event. Could. Not. Happen.

There is no true way to say thank you for the lives that you will be helping to save on Saturday.

No true way to express how a parent feels simply knowing that 2,200 riders will come together on Saturday to help his or her child’s doctors find a cure.

No true way to say what 22 years of making miracles happen through the Trek 100 Ride for Hope truly means.

So, instead, we’ll ask that when you’re finished riding on Saturday, take a few minutes to watch the jumbo tron and meet some of the kids you are helping to save.

And then, hopefully, you’ll know why our hearts are bursting with joy and gratitude and hope simply because you are with us.

with gratitude and hope,

Lo

Lora Kaelber, Development Officer 


A very special thank you from Dr. Michael Kelly.

Kapco and The Bradley Center Give Kids Battling Cancer and Blood Disorders a Suite “Taylor Swift” Concert Night

Recording artist Taylor Swift will play to a Bradley Center full of fans on Wed. June 8, but few fans will enjoy her show more than the 11 girls who will fill a special Bradley Center Suite thanks to the generosity of Kapco Metal Stampings of Grafton and the Bradley Center.

The ticket for this Suite experience comes with a very high price however. The ticket holders have to be patients being cared for in the MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to get in. For this very special night, the girls will be just like every other Taylor Swift fan. The treatment rooms and clinic and hospital visits won’t be uppermost on their minds on this night. On this night, they will simply be screaming fans enjoying an exciting concert. I will have the good fortune to welcome the kids on behalf of the MACC Fund while also having a chance to thanks Kapco and The Bradley Center.

Kapco and The Bradley Center are veterans at making the kids smile. This is the fourth special concert experience which Kapco and the Bradley Center have provided children who are being treated in the MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. In January 2008, they hosted a similar group for the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus “Best of Both Worlds” concert while in 2009 they offered unforgettable concert experiences for the Jonas Bros. in July and Miley Cyrus in October.

Both Kapco and The Bradley Center are doing their best to give the children a chance to see an exciting concert. It will also give them something to remember that will bring a smile as they continue to deal with the challenges of their illness. The MACC Fund is fortunate to work with its great partner, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, along with the Bradley Center and Kapco to fill this special Suite with grateful children who are battling cancer and blood disorders.

You undoubtedly have head of Kapco, a leader in manufacturing in their state-of-the-art facility in Grafton where their slogan is “making people our priority.” The MACC Fund’s good friend Jim Kacmarcik heads Kapco and as shown by this concert is not only a leader in the manufacturing sector but is a leader in philanthropy and bringing smiles as well.

The MACC Fund has had the good fortune to work with the Bradley Center since it opened in 1988 in conjunction with the Milwaukee Bucks for the annual MACC Fund Game as well as other events. It hosted the MACC Fund’s 25th Gala in 2001 which raised net proceeds of $750,000 for the fight against childhood cancer. Wednesday night’s Taylor Swift Concert Suite experience is one more example of the Bradley Center’s commitment to helping the MACC Fund help kids along with Kapco. The girls and the MACC Fund thank Kapco and the Bradley Center for giving them a night to remember at the Taylor Swift Concert.

John Cary, Executive Director

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