Volunteer gives more than time to WBCS
May 28, 2013 College News - Entering her second year as Chairperson and fourth year with the organization, Kadie M. Jelenchick was fully prepared to work with the talented designers and contractors who bring the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse to life. She did not anticipate they would be working on her house, but a sign of good leadership is the ability to adapt.
WBCS, Inc. is featuring the Milwaukee residence Jelenchick owns with her husband, Steve, at 2228 E. Newberry Blvd., as the 2013 Showhouse for a Cure. For this dedicated volunteer, supporting breast cancer and prostate cancer research at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) is not only close to home; it’s in it.
It is a classic case of leading by example, and this quality of Jelenchick’s character had a sizeable role in propelling her into WBCS leadership in the first place. Originally agreeing to serve on the committee for the 2009 Raise a Glass to Hope Gala at the request of a friend, Jelenchick soon found her name on a short list of volunteers to chair the event. She didn’t have prior experience formally fundraising for a charitable organization, but she welcomed the opportunity when she was selected.
“The WBCS Board was incredibly supportive and really instilled confidence in us to put on a great event,” she said. “And it turned out to be a great event. I appreciate that they took a chance on us because these events are really the lynchpin for how we generate our revenue to support MCW each year.”
Drawing a crowd
The lineup has grown since WBCS was founded in 1998 but now includes events throughout the year, such as the Raise a Glass to Hope Preview Party (May 31, 2013, at the Showhouse), Tee Up for a Cure Golf Outing (July 22, 2013, at Blue Mound Golf and Country Club), Pinktacular Event: Salute to Survivors Fashion Show and Luncheon (Oct. 10, 2013, at the Italian Community Center), and the Pink Tie Gala. The Hope Springs Eternal: Racing for Research at MCW 5K Run/2K Walk (June 8, 2013, in Lake Park) was just added last year, and, of course, the Showhouse itself anchors the roster. A cast of thousands, literally, volunteering their time, talent and compassion powers the success of these events that support breast cancer and prostate cancer research.
“Part of what’s appealing to me about WBCS is that it is all volunteers, and every single dollar raised is a dollar toward efforts to find a cure,” Jelenchick said. “When individuals commit to the cause, they really do. They give their time, talents and energy in addition to financial support. It’s really a unique aspect of the organization.”
The people Jelenchick has met through WBCS have strengthened her enthusiasm. She vividly remembers the first survivor fashion show she attended and meeting the models – all cancer survivors – which reinforced the importance of supporting research at MCW.
“This is not just any fashion show,” she said. “The models put themselves out there and tell their stories. It’s really remarkable to see.”
Jelenchick’s primary goal as WBCS Chairperson is to ensure that growing numbers of people hear these stories, attend events and support the WBCS mission. The Board is working to build its digital presence on the Web and through social media to make information more accessible and promote the organization’s mission. The Medical College of Wisconsin has been incredibly supportive in these efforts, she said.
“It’s important to me to enhance the visibility of the organization,” Jelenchick said. “It’s not just tours, not just designers dolling up a home for two weeks of the year. There are lots of opportunities to support the organization in a variety of different ways.”
Where science and law intersect
Jelenchick is an attorney with Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee, but science has been an element of her work since college. As an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, N.Y., she studied biomedical engineering. Her senior design project served a community client – a 19-year-old quadriplegic – who could no longer attend a traditional school but was working to continue his education. Her design team developed a desk for his wheelchair—powered by the wheelchair battery—that empowered him to work more independently. One aspect of their project involved working with the university’s technology transfer office to explore protection for their work.
“Through that piece of the design project, I found a nexus between law and science that was appealing,” she said. “I liked the idea of maintaining the science and engineering but having the opportunity to interact with it in a much different way than as a researcher or engineer.”
Her law degree led to a career in intellectual property law and a litigation practice focused on patent, trademark, anti-counterfeiting and copyright disputes at Foley & Lardner, where she is Senior Counsel.
Through Legal Action of Wisconsin, Jelenchick also participates in the Volunteer Lawyers Project, where she provides pro bono legal services to low-income or indigent clients. She primarily helps resolve landlord-tenant issues, which can involve unsafe housing conditions or unethical practices, like failing to return security deposits or unlawful evictions.
Around the holidays, Jelenchick still receives Christmas cards from some of the people she has helped. Whether she is supporting an organization that has donated nearly $5 million to the Medical College for cancer research and an endowed chair, or supporting individuals who just need a helping hand, Jelenchick delivers.
In the know
What: 2013 Showhouse for a Cure
When: June 1 - 16, 2013
Where: 2228 E. Newberry Blvd., Milwaukee
Why: Raise funds for breast cancer and prostate cancer research and an endowed chair at the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center.