Wisconsin has two new star players in the fight against cancer: UW–Madison men’s head basketball coach Greg Gard and his wife, Michelle.
The couple was inspired to start Garding Against Cancer to honor Greg’s father, Glen Gard, who passed away in 2015 after a six-month battle with brain cancer. They decided it was fitting to focus on fighting the disease across the state of Wisconsin because Glen was so committed to helping locally first and foremost.
“With so many great resources and people right here in Wisconsin,” says Michelle Gard, “it made perfect sense to us to do as much as possible with, and for, those right here at home.”
Earning an assist in the effort to beat cancer, WFAA helped Greg and Michelle Gard shoot for big things with the launch of Garding Against Cancer.
Garding Against Cancer has organized a dozen events so far to raise funds to support researchers as well as cancer patients and their families. WFAA has handled marketing, promotions, and gift processing for the events. Since its beginning in December 2016, Garding Against Cancer is on track to raise $1.5 million and has drawn more than 1,500 participants.
The organization held its first signature fundraiser in May 2017 at the Kohl Center, and more than 600 attendees raised more than $1 million at that event alone. Guests enjoyed food, drink, music, and a live auction. The program included remarks from Ohio University basketball coach and former Badger assistant coach Saul Phillips and his wife, Nicole — herself a breast-cancer survivor. Proving that he will go to great lengths to support his cause, Coach Gard even channeled his inner Garth Brooks and sang “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” at the country-and-western–themed event.
Many of the funds went to help researchers and patients at UW–Madison’s Carbone Cancer Center. Garding Against Cancer has also held local fundraisers around the state, including a 5K run in the Wisconsin Dells and a business luncheon and family fun night at UW–Stout. The money raised at local events stays in those communities, and Garding Against Cancer also provides them with additional funding.
“We have such a great platform here in Madison to be able to help, with the Carbone Cancer Center and the university and the hospital system,” Greg Gard said in an interview after the Kohl Center event. “It’s really a great partnership all the way around, and the people have been unbelievable — it’s really been overwhelming just in five months what the support has been. … I think the sky’s the limit as to what we can do.”
Learn about Garding Against Cancer’s latest project, Bucky on Parade, at buckyonparade.com.