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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • September 2017
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Keep Pluggin’ Away

Al and Tessie Micke brought up four children in the Greenleaf-Wrightstown area, immersing themselves deeply in the community. A Wrightstown school board member, Al also was involved in Wrightstown soccer. He and Tessie both have been active members of the Greenleaf/Wrightstown Optimist Club for years.

When they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary May 27, family members were thankful just to have the two of them. Tessie had suffered a brain aneurysm in July 2012, and four months later, the company Al worked for closed its doors.

He eventually became a city bus driver, a job he loves and hopes to return to. But right now, Al is fighting his own medical battle, with acute myeloid leukemia. A bone marrow transplant planned for May was canceled when a pre-op checkup revealed leukemic cells still in his blood. Al is undergoing more chemo and hoping for a transplant in September.

“We’ve been through more than we’d like to go through in a lifetime,” Al said, “but we feel that God must be challenging us for something.”

That positive attitude is typical of his dad, Brad Micke said. “When things weren’t going well in the hospital,” he said, “Dad would say, ‘We gotta keep pluggin’ away.’” That statement became the theme of an August Celebration of Support organized by the Mickes with help from Community Benefit Tree, Inc. (CBT).

Brad said, “My cousin, Andrea Micke, approached me and my sister about doing a benefit. We invited everybody on my Dad’s side of the family to meet at Andrea’s house one Sunday afternoon to discuss options.”

When one cousin brought a flyer she’d picked up while attending a CBT Celebration of Support, the family briefly considered that and put it on the back burner. “The more we thought about it,” Andrea said, “the more we felt we might need help. Brad and my Mom and I went to CBT to find out more about the process. We got really excited about working with them because it’s such a great organization.”

Once the decision was made, the whole family got involved. “Some people put together baskets for the silent auction,” Andrea said. “Others went out and asked for donations. Everybody pitched in where they were comfortable.” 

The Celebration was successful largely because of the planning that CBT helps a benefit team to do. “They lay everything out,” Brad said. “They know the ins and outs, the things that work and the things that don’t. They brought a sense of organization, a sense of direction and laid it out for us step by step.”

Andrea looks at the benefit as an opportunity for the family and the community to give back to Al and Tessie. “Even with all they’re going through, they’re still involved and active,” she said. “In July they were part of an Optimist project to collect school supplies for children in the community. And Tess has always organized the Optimist Club Easter egg hunt, with Al right by her side.”

Another plus of working with CBT, Andrea said, is “I didn’t want to ask Alan and Tess about their financial situation. Community Benefit Tree handles that and those of us on the committee don’t need to get into it.”

Because CBT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, donations are tax deductible. And because they never hand out cash, recipients’ income is not affected. Community Benefit Tree pays bills directly for recipients and provides gift cards for groceries, gas and other necessities. 

Al and Tessie’s benefit is over, but readers can still donate to their fund. Find it at www.communitybenefittree.org/calendar. Scroll to the picture of Tessie and Al and click on GIVE. 

Kathi Bloy

The Community Benefit Tree Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by Christian values. Our mission is to help individuals and families struggling with a medical crisis financially, emotionally, spiritually and with practical resources. We celebrate people’s lives and support by helping family, friends or co-workers plan a Celebration of Support event for their loved one. In the last 10 years, these one-day events have helped more than 500 families with funds for living and medical expenses. Community Benefit Tree also provides education, support, resources and financial assistance for families. For more information, visit communitybenefittree.org or contact CBT staff at 920-422-1919.

Kathi Bloy is a freelance writer from Appleton.

Website: communitybenefittree.org
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