Milwaukee’s Finest announces 2015 class

The number of people battling cystic fibrosis across the country could easily fit into Miller Park, according to Elm Grove resident Tom Koops, whose 7-year-old son, Jeb, struggles with the disease.

Koops and his family helped humanize cystic fibrosis and give perspective on the toll it takes during the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Wisconsin Chapter’s kickoff of the 2015 Milwaukee’s Finest campaign. The kickoff, held Thursday evening, served to welcome the 2015 class of honorees as well as officially launch their individual fundraising efforts.

The Milwaukee’s Finest campaign, now in its fourth year, engages the philanthropic drive of young professionals in order to advance the mission of CFF, which works to spread awareness of cystic fibrosis and fund research for a cure.

“There’s a lot of garbage in the world, and so this is one of those nice things that you actually you see good come out of people,” Koops said of the foundation’s efforts and the campaign’s contribution in the fight for a cure.

This year’s fundraising push – which has a $60,000 goal – will rely on 11 honorees, each of whom are tasked with raising a minimum of $2,500 by May 21, when the campaign will conclude with a recognition event.

Milwaukee’s Finest honorees are: Kristin Bissett of Generac Power Systems, Lisa Hedrick of St. Bruno Parish School, Doug Hipple of Bank Mutual, Bryan Johnsen of Tri City National Bank, Deborah Ladd of Cohen Fund Audit Services, Mike Lauber of Ernst & Young LLP, Stephen Minutolo of Kohl’s and the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Cheryl Oswald of Kohl’s, Julian Palacios of Johnson Controls, Bryan Schauland of Johnson Bank, and Kevin Strong of ETE Reman.

Following a nomination and application process, each honoree was vetted by a committee of CFF stakeholders. Over the next 11 weeks, honorees will fundraise in whatever ways they deem most effective. The honoree who tops out with the highest fundraising total will be crowned “Milwaukee’s Finest” and will receive a special Breath of Life award in addition to a week-long vacation.

During the course of the campaign, honorees will also have opportunities to learn how to optimize fundraising at professional coaching sessions, tour the cystic fibrosis care center and research lab at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and pair up with families like the Koops family to see the effects of the disease firsthand.

“You have a choice when you’re in your 20s…to either work and go out and have fun or do something like this,” Joy Koops, wife of Tom and mother of Jeb, said of Milwaukee’s Finest honorees. “I’m amazed by their selflessness.”

Rick Verthein, chair of Milwaukee’s Finest and a financial advisor at Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., hopes the kind of selflessness generated by the campaign sparks young professionals’ interest in giving back to the community and helps them realize they can make a lasting difference.

“There’s more out there than just going to work and dating and…going out on weekends,” Verthein said. “There (are) a lot of things and opportunities you can do to give back.”

Last year’s “Finest” cohort of 11 honorees surpassed CFF’s $45,000 fundraising goal after collecting more than $49,000.

For more information on the 2015 campaign, which BizTimes Media is sponsoring, click here.

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disease that causes mucus to accumulate in the lungs and digestive tract among other areas in the body. About 30,000 people across the country and 70,000 people worldwide struggle with the disease, according to CFF.

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