Connie Pemrich - Joshua J Richards Charitable Foundation

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Reprinted with permission from the Potawatomi Traveling Times

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Josh’s Story

by Winda Collins

Jackie Pische and her husband Mike came face-to-face with the dark side of humanity when, in December 2013, their son Joshua Richards, died from a gunshot wound he suffered at the hand of another. Only parents who have lost a child can understand how deep grief can be, especially under such tragic circumstances. But being the strong people they are, and knowing the kind of man their son was and what he would have wanted, Josh’s story is still unfolding.

The reason that the Potawatomi Traveling Times (PTT) is sharing this story with the community is, on the surface, pretty simple. A chance encounter with Jackie and a single question she asked set this process in motion. You see, both Jackie and her husband Mike are employed by the Forest County Potawatomi (FCP). Jackie, a 12-year employee, is director of the FCPC Tribal Child Support Agency; her husband, Mike, is a three-year employee who works for the Housing Department.

The question Jackie asked was, “Does the Traveling Times ever do stories on the different events the tribe sponsors?” The answer is, of course, yes. Scores of stories have been done on racing partnerships over the years. There have been many photos of donations made by the community to area schools, fire and rescue departments, etc. What many might not realize is how much good the FCPC does behind the scenes – away from the limelight.

But, back to the story.

Although no one could have known it at the time, a pivotal point in Josh’s life came when he chose to become an organ donor at the age of 16 when obtaining his driver’s license. This act would very literally allow Josh’s kind and giving spirit to live on long after his death.

Being an organ and tissue donor, Josh has helped seven through gifts of organs, aided two in regaining sight, and there have been over 239 tissue grants. One of those 239 was Jackie who was able to use Josh’s tissue when she had back surgery. In a 2014 story by another publication, Jackie made the statement, “He’ll always be with me, but this will be a different piece. He’ll help me heal and make my back better, which is something he would have wanted.”

Family and friends founded the Joshua J Richards Charitable Foundation (Josh’s Foundation) to “…keep his good name alive by raising awareness for the organ, eye and tissue donations programs, and to raise funds to help children who may not have the resources available to participate in sports and extracurricular activities.”

In those efforts, two annual events were created:

Hit ‘er Whiff Golf Outing held in June at the Mid Vallee Golf Course in DePere, the last of which, the third annual, raised almost $18,000 thanks to 27 volunteers and 96 golfers! Three of those four-person teams consisted of FCP community members and the event’s major sponsor was the FCPC.

The other is the Stringer Poker Run scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17. Almost 70 participated in last year’s run raising $3,400. The poker run begins and ends at Mountain Springs Motel in Mountain with stops at Spirits of Gillett, Eagles Nest in Suring, AA Bar in Breed, Everbreeze in Chute Pond, The School House in Mountain and Mulligans in Mountain. All stops are accessible by ATV trails, and everyone is welcome to travel by car or motorcycle. For those not wishing to drive, there is a bus available. Free food and raffles await at Mountain Springs Motel.

To date, the Foundation has raised over $55,000. Those who have benefitted from these funds include the University of Wisconsin Organ Donor Program, Gillett School District, Oconto River Kids, Menominee Tribal Hoops Program and other individuals in need.

Anyone interested in learning more about Josh’s Foundation, its events, or perhaps about organ/tissue donations, please feel free to inquire at joshuarichardsfoundation@gmail.com.

As Josh’s story continues to unfold and to bless others, there’s only one thing left to share: the heartfelt gratitude of Jackie and Mike to the FCPC for being such a positive and supportive leader, not only in Forest County, but across the state of Wisconsin. Chi Migwetch!

PHOTO CAP

Pictured are (inset and l-r): Joshua Richards, Jackie Pische, Joshua’s mother; Matthew Dickman, grandson of Larry Hart who received Joshua’s lungs; and Ben Adler who received Joshua’s heart.

photo courtesy UW Health Transplant Program and UW Organ and Tissue Donation 2016 Calendar

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3rd Annual Hit ‘er Whiff … A Hole In One!!

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It was clearly a “hole in one” for the 3rd Annual Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation’s Hit ‘er Whiff Golf Outing!!  A huge and most heartfelt thanks to all of you who were part of this year’s amazing success, which lived up to last year’s expectations thanks to you.  While it’s hard to believe that our Joshy has been gone three years, a bittersweet justice was found in the outcome of his murder trial, which finally reached the Outagamie Court system this year, finding Chong Lee guilty of first degree intentional homicide with life imprisonment and first eligibility for parole in 34 years at age 65.  Although this does not bring Josh back, may we all find our own comfort in knowing how his life continues to shine brightly in so many others.

We also acknowledge with profound gratitude our Major Sponsors and Partners:  Forest County Potawatomi, Medtronic, Urology Associates, UW Donor and Tissue Program, the American Tissue Services Foundation and Doc’s Harley Davidson, as well as our Hole Sponsors:  American Tissue Services Foundation, Co-Vantage Credit Union, Doc’s Harley Davidson, Forest County Potawatomi, FOX Sports, It Works!, Jen’s Naughty Pine, Medtronic, Mountain Springs Motel & Campground, Prevea Health, Prime Quarter, Professional Fabrications, Shawano Auto Sales, Spirit’s of Gillett, Thrivent Financial, Tom’s Tap, Twig’s Beverage, UW Donor and Tissue Program in honor of Trey Schwab, and White Clay Lake Lodge.

Thank you all for continuing to give so generously in the name of Josh.   Now … fire it up for the All Vehicle Poker Run on 9/17/16.  We welcome all ATV’s, motorcycles and cars, and there’s also a Party Bus for those of you who prefer not to party and drive.  Watch the website and Facebook for more details.  You just gotta’ be there for Josh, his Foundation … and for fun!!

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Pop-A-Top in Honor of Josh and Organ Donation

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As the second anniversary of Josh’s tragic murder approaches, we pause to remember a man who will always be with us, and a night we’d rather forget.  The spirit of Joshua J. Richards still shines bright through his family, friends and the Foundation bearing his name … yet we miss him still.  As an organ donor, Josh was a hero both in his life and his death, sharing humor, kindness, and hope.  Last year we challenged you to “Pop-a-Top” in honor of Josh, and many of you went above and beyond posting videos, pictures and stories while popping a top of your favorite beverage in his name.

This year we’d like to step-up the challenge, asking that you carry on the tradition while inviting your friends and workmates to join you in doing the same.  To our many sponsors, we welcome you to gather your teammates with your logo in front or behind, and share your message of support for the Joshua J. Richards Foundation.   Get your beverage of choice and video/camera ready, then “Pop-a-Top” in honor of Josh, and everyone else who was an organ donor or recipient this year.

Please help us kick-off the challenge this weekend and throughout the Christmas season.  Tag the Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation on Facebook or send your video, picture or story to joshuarichardsfoundation@gmail.com.  Cheers, and thanks, in the name of Josh!!

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Second Year Success

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It’s impossible to say who had more fun at the Second Annual Joshua Richards Hit ‘er Whiff Golf Outing in June: the golfers, the guests, the volunteers, or the Board!!  The same can be said for this year’s Stinger Poker Run, which took place last month.  Both events were an amazing success, and surpassed total funds raised last year thanks to your participation.

We also acknowledge with profound gratitude our major partners and sponsors:  Forest County Potawatomi, Medtronic, SYSrad Systems, UW Donor and Tissue Program, the American Tissue Services Foundation and Doc’s Harley Davidson.

Hole Sponsors: American Car Care Center, American Tissue Services Foundation, BMO Harris, Co-Vantage Credit Union, Doc’s Harley Davidson, Forest County Potawatomi, Fun Fan Clothing, Jen’s Naughty Pine, Medtronic, Mountain Springs Motel & Campground, Professional Fabrications, Shawano Auto Sales, Spirit’s of Gillett, St. Bridget Catholic School, SYSrad Systems, Tom’s Tap, Triangle Distributing, Urology Associates, UW Donor and Tissue Program, and White Clay Lake Lodge.

Poker Run Stops: AA Bar, Beach Club, Eagle’s Nest, Everbreeze, Mountain Springs Motel & Campground, Mulligan’s, Old Town Hall, Schoolhouse Bar, and Spirit’s of Gillett.

Thank you, and bless you, all for giving so generously in the name of Joshy!!

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Stinger Poker Run Update – Ride The Party Bus

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For those of you who were there for the first, remember what fun you had?!!  And for those who missed it, you’ll most definitely want to be part of this year’s event!!  Thanks to generous donations, the “Another Way Entertainment” party bus will be providing FREE service to and from Green Bay and Gillett (please remember to tip your driver), as well as making all stops on the Run!!  It will be leaving Burkel’s One Block Over in Green Bay at 10:00 am, with additional pick-ups at Spirit’s of Gillett and Mountain Springs Motel.  In addition to Spirit’s and Mountain Springs, bars on the Run include Eagle’s Nest, AA Bar, Everbreeze, Schoolhouse, Mulligan’s, Beach Club and Old Town Hall.  Help us pack the bus!!

Where else can you enjoy a great ride, free food and awesome people all in the name of Josh?  The first 100 guests will also receive goody bags.   There are many great prizes and raffles, including a flat screen TV with built-in DVD player, as well as cash prizes for the top three Poker hands.  Please join us to help continue the incredible legacy of life that Josh left behind, while having some fun in his name.

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SAVE THE DATE for the Second Annual “It’s Just A Stinger Poker Run”

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Get your motor running … heading down the highway, … looking for adventure ….  and whatever comes your way.  You’ll want to be there to help make it happen:  the Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation’s 2nd Annual Poker Run on 9/12/15 running out of the Mountain Springs Motel on Highways 32 & 64.  Whether by ATV, motorcycle, vehicle or bus, join us for the ride, the raffles, the spirit and the fun, all in the name of Josh.  More details to follow, so please keep checking the website.

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Hit ‘er Whiff Golf Outing 2015 — Save the Date

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If you thought the first Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation “Hit ‘er Whiff” Golf Outing was fun, just wait until you see what’s planned for this year!!  The Second Annual Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation “Hit ‘er Whiff” Golf Outing is scheduled for Sunday, June 7, 2015 at Mid Vallee Golf Course, 3850 Mid Valley Drive in De Pere, Wisconsin.  For those lucky enough to attend last year, you’ll most definitely want to return … and for those who were unable to join us, you don’t want to miss this year’s event.  Online registration is now open at joshuarichardsfoundation.org.  Space is limited, so please register today.  If you sign up and pay in full by March 1st you’ll receive free entry into a special Early Bird Give-Away.  If the most important shot in golf is the next one, then the most important Golf Outing of the season is this one!!

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Workmates of Josh’s Mom Pop a Top

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In honor of Josh’s mom and fellow co-worker, Jackie Pische, the Forest County Potawatomi Family Services Group gathered to “Pop A Top for Josh,” challenging others to join the campaign in support of the Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation and Organ Donation.  What blessings and rewards are found in working with people who truly care.  Bless you all!!

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The Never-Ending Story – Rose Bowl 2015

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Josh’s family has been invited to ride on the Donate Life float in the Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, 2015.  The Donate Life float honors millions of people touched by organ, eye and tissue donation, including living donors, donor families, transplant recipients and transplant candidates.  Thirty individuals have been selected to ride the 12th annual Donate Life float.  They all have unique yet unifying stories that become part of “The Never-Ending Story,” the theme of this year’s float.  The majority of the riders are organ and tissue recipients.  Four donor mothers, whose sons and daughters saved lives with their selfless gifts of life will join them, including Josh’s mom and the dynamic force behind the Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation, Jackie Pische.

Jackie will be honoring Josh and the gift of life he has given to many, including his tissue recently used in her back surgery.  Jackie will be wearing Josh’s Jersey with pride, and she along with the Foundation bearing his name will continue to bring awareness of how important being an organ donor is in the time of tragedy or loss.  Please join us in celebrating these heroes, visit the links below for stories on the float riders and Josh’s gift to Jackie … and become an Organ Donor!!

http://www.donatelifefloat.org/prod/components/media_center/riders/2015/index.html

http://www.uwhealth.org/organ-donation/organ-donor-mom-because-recipient/44243

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Pop a Top for Josh Campaign

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Please join us in the Pop a Top for Josh campaign to support the Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation and Organ Donation.

Joshy’s family, friends, Foundation and many others, miss our Josh who we lost on December 8, 2013.  However, 7 people woke up on December 9th to a new hope at life, 2 people could now see and up to 50 will receive the gift of tissue, including his dearest friend, and mom, Jackie Pische.

We challenge you to Pop a Top in honor of Josh and the Foundation bearing his name and in support of organ, eye and tissue donation. ALL you need to do is take a picture of you popping a top of your favorite beverage (soda, juice, wine, Pabst, whatever) and tag the joshuarichardsfoundation Facebook page or send to joshuarichardsfoundation@gmail.com. Nominate friends, family and coworkers, visit the joshuarichardsfoundation.org, and make a donation to this challenge through the month of December.

If you live in WI go to the University of WI Organ Donor site at http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/health/donatelife or outside WI at donatelife.net to learn more on organ, eye and tissue donation and register today to be a donor!  In Joshy’s name, please join us.

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