What a year 2015 has been for Josh’s Foundation.
It all started promptly on January 1st with the Rose Bowl. I was lucky enough to ride on the Donate Life Float in honor of Joshua and his generous gift of tissue to me thanks to the great people at American Tissue Services Foundation and Medtronic. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience but at the same time so very bittersweet as Josh would have loved to see the Rose Bowl.
In June we had an amazing turnout for the Hit ‘Er Whiff Golf outing with over 100 participants and major sponsors like the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, Medtrinic, American Tissue Services, Sysrad, University of Wisconsin Organ Donor Program (and Dottie!) and Doc’s Harley Davidson. We are pleased to report donations exceeded 2014 and totaled over $13,000.00. We had a considerable number of donations as well, ranging from gift baskets to signed Packer memorabilia, and lest we forget about the famous Daytona 500 experience package! All were auctioned off by our friend and supporter John Maino. We truly thank everyone for participating in this great annual event and are already planning the 2016 event for June 12, 2016 at MidVallee Golf Course. Keep an eye on our website for more details.
In September we held our annual all vehicle poker run at the Mountain Springs Motel and Campground. Once again, American Tissue Services Foundation stepped it up and provided the funds for some great bandannas that were given out to each of the 90 riders. This was a great time, with bus service provided for some of the less hearty riders, like myself, by Another Way Entertainment. Others rode by motorcycle, car and ATV. We had nine stops this year and want to thank Spirits of Gillett, AA Bar, Eagles Nest, Mountain Springs Motel, Everbreeze, Schoolhouse, Mulligans, Beach Club and Old Town Hall. Without these amazing businesses we would not be able to have such a great ride on the beautiful day we had to enjoy ourselves in memory of Josh.
This year’s giving was a joy to do. This year Josh’s Foundation purchased and installed a much needed sprinkler system for the Gillett School District’s football and practice field. The field was in very poor condition and had a very high cost to maintain. It is a privilege to drive by and see so many of our youth enjoying this great field, which includes track and field. We are very excited as the practice field for this, Josh’s high school, will be named after him later this year or in the spring of 2016.
We have also partnered with DePere’s own Jason Berken, and are sponsoring up to twenty children to attend his baseball camp in January. This camp allows kids from 3rd grade to 12th grade attend a camp that is taught by many professional baseball players and coaches. The children we are sponsoring come from homes that have lost someone near and dear to them. Most of the children in some way have been touched by the organ donation program, having lost loved ones or by having one that has received the gift of life through this program.
The Foundation has also provided funds again this year to the Oconto River Kids, a non-profit organization that allows critically or terminally ill children participate in hunting and fishing activities. Along with that we have also donated to the Menominee Tribal Hoops program, a tribal program that was started by Wendall Waukau and is aimed at allowing children the opportunity to play basketball at an early stage in their education. There are several other donations have been made including the Kidney for Kasey event and the N.E.W. Donate Life Walk.
Josh’s last great honor of this year was the naming of the New Jersey Medtronic Conference Room after Josh. This everlasting tribute to Josh means more to his friends and family than words could possibly describe. Thank you Medtronic for being such a great group to work with and thank you for all you do for the tissue donors and recipients.
Of course, none of this would not be possible had it not been for the many generous donors and participants. You have made it possible for us to keep Josh’s great name alive by all that you have done this year. This biggest thanks goes to you. We hope you continue to watch and support this Foundation as we grow and please consider becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor. Visit www.donatelife.net to register online and be a hero like our Josh!