Golfing for childhood cancer research

2019 Giving Guide

After years of supporting the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund, the cause became much more personal to West Bend Mutual Insurance Co.

Since 2006, West Bend Mutual Insurance has hosted a biennial golf outing, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the MACC Fund, an organization that supports childhood cancer and blood disorder research. In 2013, the company’s director of information security, Ryan Dove, and his wife, Erin, learned that their 8-year-old daughter Lily had lymphoblastic leukemia. Two years later, Lily’s twin, Bailey, received the same diagnosis at 10 years old. Now 13 years old, both have completed treatment and are doing well.

Maddie, Lily and Bailey Dove with their parents, Ryan and Erin Dove.

“That why we do it,” said Kevin Steiner, president and chief executive officer of West Bend Mutual Insurance. “Not all stories have a positive ending. The cure rate has gone from 20 to 80 percent over the last 40 years. That’s tremendous advancement, but our work is not done.”

Prior to launching the golf outing, the company had supported the MACC Fund with annual $1,000 gifts as part of an employee recognition program. When Steiner joined the organization’s board about 15 years ago, the company decided to increase its commitment to the cause.

The fundraiser has grown significantly since its inaugural year, which brought in $59,950. This year’s event, held at the West Bend Country Club and at the Prairie Center at West Bend’s corporate headquarters, raised more than $900,000.

The company covers all event expenses, meaning all proceeds benefit the MACC Fund.

“I’m proud to say that’s a commitment my company has made; we’ll take care of expenses,” Steiner said. “We want you to know every dollar goes to the MACC Fund.”

The MACC Fund was established in 1976 by retiring Milwaukee Bucks player-turned-announcer Jon McGlocklin and play-by-play announcer Eddie Doucette, whose two-year-old son Brett had been diagnosed with cancer. The MACC Fund has raised a total of $63 million over the years for childhood cancer and blood disorder research.

Ryan Dove hadn’t heard about the organization prior to Lily’s diagnosis.

“It was a Friday that she was diagnosed,” he said. “On Monday, we were sitting in the cafeteria (of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin) and we learned that the MACC Fund had given a $10 million research grant to Children’s Hospital … We gained awareness of the MACC Fund the hard way. We want to raise the awareness that it could be anyone’s child.”

Ryan and Erin Dove have become advocates for the cause ever since. The couple shares their story often, and Ryan serves on the MACC Fund’s Emerging Leaders Board.

“For me, it’s not work; it’s a strong passion for me,” Ryan said.

That passion has spread throughout West Bend Mutual.

“We have a very special culture,” Steiner said. “Part of that is community support and philanthropy. When you find a cause that everyone can rally around and that you can see that it’s right here in our backyard, it becomes a great team relationship builder.”

“We will keep working with the MACC Fund until there is a cure for childhood cancer,” he added. “We still have a lot of work to do and West Bend is proud to be a part of it.”

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