A Grant County-based organization and one of southwest Wisconsin’s larger businesses are teaming together to help the organization.
Thursday’s Child is a Mount Hope-based organization described by board member Sandy Meier of Potosi as “a nonprofit — all board members volunteer — to help seriously ill children and their families.”
Thursday’s Child is similar to the national Make a Wish Foundation, except that Thursday’s Child goes farther in age to young adulthood. The Make a Wish cutoff age is 18.
“Children wanted more than a trip to Disney World, and a lot of their wishes are so simple — a special doll at Christmastime,” said Meier.
One of Thursday’s Child’s newer financial supporters is Tricor Insurance. The company sponsored the first Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk in Smith Park in December, raising more than $4,000.
“Tricor has always wanted to give back to the community in ways that made sense,” said Tricor’s Kevin Long. “We kind of came to the conclusion that we wanted to focus on something that had a little more impact and could contribute more than just a $20 check.”
Thursday’s Child began in 1984. One of its longer-standing efforts is getting gift cards for children and their siblings, totaling $16,000 one year. The organization also funds six meals each year for families with children at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison.
“Our board goes to any extent we can to get children’s wishes fulfilled,” said Meier.
That is not an understatement. The organization learned about Chris Lezpona, an Onalaska man whose brain surgery to remove a brain tumor left him in the hospital for three months and in a wheelchair for 18 months. Lezpona was a high school golfer, but the brain surgery ended his ability to play golf.
Lezpona also was a hunter. “For me there is nothing more American than hunting, especially in Grant County, Wis.,” said Meier, who hunts deer and whose husband hunts elk.
So work began to create an elk hunting trip to New Mexico. Bob Johns of Potosi, an elk hunting guide, and Ed McKenzie worked with Meier and others to arrange the trip.
“He didn’t know how he could get Chris into the mountains to hunt,” said Meier of Johns. “And he said I’ll carry him on my back if I have to. I was just honored to be able to help.”
Lezpona didn’t get an elk, but saw elk on the trip. He is now in Onalaska rehabilitating. (A story about Lezpona can be viewed at www.wxow.com/story/21292451/2013/02/20/onalaska-man-inspires-others.)
Tricor and Thursday’s Child commissioned Platteville High School cross country coach Rob Serres to set up the Jingle Bell run/walk.
“Thursday’s Child is a localized organization to start with; it’s pretty much southwest Wisconsin,” said Long. “The other thing we liked about it was there was no real upper age limit; if there’s a need and the person is in their early 20s, they’ll try and do what they can.
“One of the beauties of this thing is there’s so little office expense. That was one thing that really attracted us. This is hopefully a long ongoing relationship we have with Thursday’s Child.”