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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!!

2016 Hit ‘Er Whiff Golf Outing Date Set

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On June 12, 2016 th Foundation will host the  3rd Annual Hit ‘Er Whiff Golf outing. We are pleased that we are returning to Mid Vallee Golf Course in DePere once again this coming year. Registration fee remains the same at $100.00 per person ($400.00 per foursome) and includes 18 holes of fun filled golf, lunch and dinner. We hope to have lots of great fun and prizes to follow dinner! Register by March 1st to get into our early-bird drawing. Funds will be used to benefit underprivileged children in NE WI participate in activities like the Jason Berken Baseball camp and will be donated to the University of Wisconsin’s Organ and Tissue Program.

 

Keep an eye on our blogs for updates on prizes and giveaway’s!!

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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!!

Amazing 2015!!

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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!

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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.

Gillett High School to Name Football Practice Field After Joshua Richards

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The Gillett School Board and Board members Scott Hamilton, Jackie Pische and Mike Pische met on April 16, 2015 to finalize the proposal to name the practice field after Joshua Richards.  In exchange for the naming rights the Joshua Richards Foundation will be installing an in ground sprinkler system to help improve both the practice field and the playing field.  Both are greatly used by not only by Josh’s former Gillett football team but by the physical education classes and other after school events.  This in-ground system will greatly improve not only the strength and looks of the field but will ensure the field is useful for years to come.

Funds raised at this year’s Hit ‘Er Whiff Golf Outing in June and the Stinger ATV and motorcycle run in September will help to raise the funds necessary for this worthwhile project.

 

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Josh’s Legacy Continues to Help Others through Organ and Tissue Donation

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Through medical advancement, organ and tissue donation has made great strides in assisting others live full and healthy lives.  Hearing the amount of individuals that Josh has been able to help with his choice of donating brings our organization great pride.  His legacy continues to move forward with his donation helping save the lives and/or increasing the quality of life for over 50 individuals across the world.  The letter below received from the American Tissue Service Foundation makes us very proud.  Please ensure to visit our Organ Donation page to find out more on how to ensure you are signed up for this great program.

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