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History of Our Fundraising Efforts

A Life Changing Diagnosis

In the summer of 2006, Dave & Brian Ellenbecker felt the impact of cancer hit too close to home. Their mother had surgery, during which cancer was found.  Fortunately, doctors were able to remove all cancer during the operation, and she did not need further treatment.  While other members of our extended family had bouts with cancer, and they also witnessed many friends and colleagues deal with the same issues, this hit too close to home and motivated them to take action.

Taking Action and Starting a Fundraising Event

With a new found passion for fighting this deadly disease, they used their knowledge learned from working at Milwaukee Country Club for many years as a logical gateway into starting a charity golf tournament, in which all proceeds would benefit cancer research.  Dave was able to take advantage of the skills he learned working in sales and leadership capacities to forge new relationships with the various Cancer Research Organizations as a means to identify organizations to which they donate the funds that would ultimately be raised.  He was also able to start attracting sponsors, participants, and volunteers.  Dave shared his vision with his brother Brian, and together, they forged ahead with the event planning.

Dave and Brian realized they would need additional help to create an event that would be capable of raising thousands of dollars at a time, so they set out to build a committee of passionate volunteers.  They solicited the help of several friends, including current committee members John Germano, Danielle Shepstone, Laura Monfre, Steve Backus, and Dave’s wife, Lisa inaguralEllenbecker, whom had all seen family members affected by cancer.  Together, they started the “Fore Life, Fore Hope” Charity Golf Outing to raise funds for cancer research.  Several members had past experience running smaller golf events, as well as formal involvement with larger tournaments while working at Milwaukee Country Club, while all had deep relationships with potential sponsors and donors – and so the charity golf event began to take shape.  Their overall goal of the event was to do their part in helping advance cancer treatment, and ultimately work toward a cure. 

In two short months, they organized the inaugural event and raised $6,000.  All committee members were very excited by the outpouring of support for the event, not only from friends and family, but from local businesses that sponsored holes and donated prizes.  Due to the success of this first event, they decided to host the charity golf outing annually.  100% of the proceeds raised at that event were donated to the American Cancer Society. 

Starting with the 2nd Annual Fore Life, Fore Hope Charity Golf Tournament, the committee’s love of sports lead them to the V-Foundation, where they forged a relationship with one of the founders and donated the proceeds raised for the next 2 years’ worth of events to that organization.

Expanding Our Impact

As the popularity of the golf tournament continued to grow, the committee decided to add a second event during the winter. Dave, Brian, and John had all bowled in bowling leagues for many years by this time and also had experience bowling in tournaments, for both competitive and charitable reasons.  They decided to leverage their love for the sport, their tournament experience and the fact that lots of family members and many friends were also avid bowlers to create the Strikes for Hope Charity Bowling Tournament. The inaugural event took place in January, 2009.  The first bowling event was even more successful than the two previously held golf tournaments, raising over $10,000, which was all donated to cancer research. 

After the first bowling tournament, Brian was approached by one of the financial advisors that he works with at Robert W. Baird & Co., who also happened to serve on the Board for the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Cancer Center.  Brian and Dave met with several individuals at the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center and liked what they saw and heard—especially the fact that 100% of proceeds donated went to cancer research, and that the funds would be donated to a locally-based research group.  Over the years, we have continued to work with the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center and have forged a strong relationship with many individuals there.  They have been extremely appreciative of the funds they have received from our fundraising efforts over the past 5 years. 

In the summer of 2011, after 5 years of putting on the Fore Life, Fore Hope Charity Golf Tournament, the group decided to try something different and, started the Spikes for Hope Charity Volleyball Tournament.

Today's Fundraising Efforts

DSCF4328After the volleyball tournament in 2012, the committee thought long and hard about the direction of their fundraising efforts going forward.  As the bowling tournament was, far-and-away, the most popular event and the event that clearly raised the most funds for charity, they decided that theirfundraising efforts would be best used by focusing all of their efforts on running just one event per year—the Strikes for Hope Charity Bowling Tournament.  The goal is to have one large event and focus on making that the best event possible, which should meaningfully increase the amount of funds we are able to raise and donate to cancer research.

Increased Commitment to the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center

In the spring of 2015, Dave and Brian were asked to join the Cancer Center’s advisory board, enabling them to take a leadership role and become even more involved in the Cancer Center’s fundraising efforts.  This honor was bestowed upon them, in part, because of everyone’s commitment to helping raise funds for past events.  Brian and Dave want to thank the other committee members along with everyone else who has donated funds to our events in the past, which have all helped make these events so successful

The Committee sincerely thanks you for your interest in our fundraising efforts and appreciates all of the help we have received from family, friends, event participants, and event sponsors.  We look forward to the opportunity continuing our successful fundraising efforts for many years to come.