This year's campaign aims to raise a total $35,000 toward CFF's mission to advance research of a cure and support individuals and families impacted by cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease that causes mucus to accumulate in the lungs and digestive tract among other parts of the body.
Last year's inaugural campaign generated just under $25,000.
The 2013 honorees, designated in March from a pool of 30 applicants and nominees, have spent much of the last 10 weeks organizing individual fundraising initiatives and coming together to learn more about the disease.
"For people to commit their time and energy and resources to the 'Finest' event for the past 10 weeks without maybe a direct connection (to the disease) for me has been really eye opening on how committed some of these people are," said Rick Verthein, co-chair of Milwaukee's Finest.
One of those honorees is Julie Gahl, account executive at Marcus Hotels and Resorts.
While Gahl does not have a personal connection to cystic fibrosis, she watched her brother, Dave, cope with an autoimmune disease in high school. After research helped her brother manage his disease, Gahl said that she wanted to help drive forward research on a cure for cystic fibrosis to benefit others afflicted by chronic illness.
"I was grateful to be given this opportunity to be able to give back to another organization," Gahl said.
Honoree Ray Poole, global product manager at Eaton's Cooper Power Systems, has a much stronger tie to cystic fibrosis. He has watched his wife, Rebecca, live with the disease throughout the past 15 years that they've been together.
"I've got a pretty in-depth first-hand experience with that, and I've got quite a bit of motivation to be involved (in the campaign)," Poole said.
After creating an online donation platform, accepting donations from his network of family and friends, receiving funding from his company and organizing a self-defense benefit event, Poole will hold a final fundraising event tonight at Firefly in Wauwatosa. The community event, scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., will include a raffle along with appetizers provided by Poole.
Admission costs $10 at the door. Firefly is located at 7754 Harwood Ave. in Wauwatosa.
The "Milwaukee's Finest" Campaign will officially wrap up on Thursday, May 23, with a recognition celebration to salute honorees and pay tribute to the honoree who has raised the most funds with the Breath of Life Award.
The celebration is open to the public and will start at 7 p.m. at Coast, located at 931 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee. Tickets at the door cost $65.
For more information about CFF and the "Milwaukee's Finest" Campaign, visit www.cff.org/Chapters/wisconsin/. Sponsors of this year's campaign include BizTimes Media, FM102.1, Action Coach, The CF Care Center, White Dog Photography and Design, and Zilli Hospitality Group.