Jack Jacobson, a director in commercial real estate firm Newmark’s Milwaukee office, recently trekked 130 miles by bike from Milwaukee’s North Shore to Algoma. The two-day ride along the Lake Michigan shore aimed to raise money and awareness for Friendship Circle of Wisconsin, an organization near and dear to him.
Friendship Circle of Wisconsin provides support, friendship and opportunities for inclusion to people with special needs in the Milwaukee area, according to its website. Among its various programming, the organization operates a social enterprise, Friendship Cafe, that provides job training and employment to adults with disabilities.
While it was only Jacobson’s second year participating in the organization’s annual Bike4Friendship event, he’s been connected to the nonprofit for years thanks to his nephew, Sol Weingrod.
Weingrod, 37, is a longtime member of Friendship Circle and currently works at Friendship Cafe as a concierge. Over the years, Jacobson has gotten to know other members of the organization through Weingrod and has seen its mission in action.
“The goal of the whole organization is inclusion, and they’re really good at it, so I wanted to support the organization (by participating in the ride),” said Jacobson.
This year’s Bike4Friendship event raised a total of $251,157, surpassing its $250,000 goal. Of that, Jacobson – with the help of his wife and nephew – raised about $27,000, from more than 100 donors.
“For me, it was important that I reached a lot of people. … Some people gave significant, large contributions and some people gave significant small contributions but significant for them,” said Jacobson. “I was happy to get $10 from my great nephew that he handed me in cash, and I was happy to get sponsors who paid $5,000 to be a sponsor. They were equally important.”
Jacobson this year asked a couple of longtime work clients, now friends, to sponsor him in the fundraising effort, allowing him to more than double the amount he raised in 2021. Of the 50-plus people who participated in the 2022 ride, Jacobson came in first for total dollars raised and second for total number of donors, he said. A man from New York City recruited the most donors – five or six more than Jacobson – which shows just how far and wide the mission of Friendship Circle has spread.
“That’s how I see it: You gave people this connection, for whatever they were able to spend, to an organization that promotes diversity. … The bottom line is it makes me feel good and it helps all kinds of people,” said Jacobson.
He plans to not only continue supporting the Friendship Circle of Wisconsin and participating in Bike4Friendship, but also recruit other riders and volunteers to join him. And because of the generosity he’s seen in those who have supported a cause that’s important to him, he intends to do the same whenever the opportunity arises.
“If they’re doing something like this, we’re happy to support them because, you know, it’s a community,” Jacobson said. “We help each other.”
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