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When “I” is Replaced with “We” Illness turns into Wellness!

April 28th, 2021

While I cannot take credit for coining that phrase, it certainly speaks to the core of our mission. RMHC-Madison is a small but mighty chapter, relying on the generous spirit of more than 100 volunteers to keep our core programs running smoothly. We know what our volunteer’s presence means to families. They are the Heart of the House for many reasons, but why do they continue to serve?

To answer that question, we asked volunteers who may not be familiar faces to guest families but who invest countless hours and have a profound impact on the services we provide. These are committee members, who for decades, have kept our doors open through two major golf outings.

Before a shovel hit the ground to build the Ronald McDonald House in Madison more than 27 years ago, an ambitious team of volunteers earnestly raised dollars to make that dream a reality. M&I Bank and dedicated friends recruited golfers, sponsors, and auction items to establish what is now the 32nd Annual RMHC Golf Classic. We owe them and Blackhawk Country Club a debt of gratitude for their vision and perseverance.

This year also marks the 25th Anniversary of the Rock Valley Golf Classic, which rotates venues between the Janesville Country Club and Beloit Club. With visionary leaders like David Cullen, Erik Dahlberg, Chuck Elliott, and others, they understood the impact RMHC would have on families from the Janesville, Beloit, and Rockford areas. Since then, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile was instated, providing free wellness checks and immunizations to under-served children in that area. It just goes to show that the dedication and passion of a few can make a tremendous difference to many.

Fundraisers provide nearly a quarter of our $1.3 million annual operating budget. As the pandemic continues to challenge fundraising efforts, these incredible teams provide the connections and long hours to make events successful.

With Mother’s Day on the horizon, we often talk about the role women play within our organization. Yet to be fair, we also have incredibly dedicated fathers, grandfathers, husbands, and true servant leaders who understand our mission in the most compassionate way. It is truly a privilege to be surrounded by this caring community and know that support emanates to families every day.

Volunteer Remarks

Chuck Elliott: Serving his passion for more than 25 years

Ask Rock Valley Golf Classic co-founder Chuck Elliott why he continues to champion our cause robustly. He says, “Quite simply, it’s always about the people. People who have children in need. Doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who are committed to healing children. Dedicated, loving employees and volunteers assisting those who care for children. And golfers who love their game, and willing to use that game and passion to support families.”

“It really is that simple yet so important. We raise dollars to support all those wonderful people and services to help sick children. The people coming together all have one purpose, helping families! So, what continues to drive me is also simple, my love for people.” As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Rock Valley Golf Classic, we toast Chuck Elliott, and his wife Pat, for their unwavering commitment and positive spirit, which knows no end.

Jerry Brown: Bringing “Aloha” spirit to families in need

Anyone on the greens during the RMHC-Madison Golf Classic over the last decade knows that during the cold winter months preceding the event, Jerry Brown is not only knocking on doors to solicit golfers and sponsors, but he is looking for the perfect outfit! His infectious spirit is seen on and off the course, having also served on the RMHC-Madison Board of Directors.

When asked why he serves in so many capacities, Jerry says, “Prior to being on the RMHC-Madison Board of Directors, M3 was asked to lead the Annual Golf Classic after 21 years with M&I Bank running it. Talk about BIG shoes to fill! Until then, I had not been exposed to the House, nor really had a full understanding of the purpose of its mission. Wow, were my eyes opened to an incredible cause!! From the beginning, M3 and I were ‘hooked’ and could not be prouder to be a part of this incredible mission and family for the last ten years. Knowing I am a very small part of such an AMAZING program that touches so many families every day brings an amount of joy that I cannot even begin to express.”

Brian Flad: The heart of the House is in his blood

The Flad Family are no strangers to RMHC-Madison. Indeed, Brian’s parents were co-founders of the original House and co-chaired our recent expansion. So as Brian and his young family returned to their roots, giving back was a simple decision. They recently joined the RMHC-Madison Golf Classic committee bringing new energy and ambassadors during a critical time. He says, “Clichés aside, RMHC-Madison is truly a place that embodies the saying, ‘in a world where you can be anything, be kind.’ Kindness, compassion, and empathy are hallmarks of the Ronald McDonald House, and our volunteers are true leaders in those categories. Ronald McDonald House volunteers practice servant leadership, often without even knowing it. For them, it’s about the families that are under that roof, far away from their home, their support network, their everyday… all while staying strong for a sick kid and other family members. Our volunteers put those families first.”

“What we might view as ‘little’ when it comes to a volunteer act can mean the world or bring a smile or sense of hope to a family member staying at the Ronald McDonald House. It’s in those little, quiet moments that we – as volunteers – receive so much in return, and it means so much more to us because we were never looking or expecting anything in return. RMHC-Madison is a community of committed stewards of kindness and selflessness, and no matter what you may bring as a volunteer from the outside world. When you enter those doors, I guarantee your heart is ten times more full upon your departure! Simply being there for others, offering a sympathetic ear, providing a warm meal, or helping a family take it one day at a time is so important. Our kindness can lift those families up, and, in turn, we find that it lifts us up too.”


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