Originals. Legends. Heroes. These terms describe the “Original Buck” and Indiana University and Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame member Jon McGlocklin and original voice of the Milwaukee Bucks and Basketball Hall of Fame broadcaster Eddie Doucette for different reasons. They were part of the Milwaukee Bucks success in the early years, including the memorable 1970-71 NBA Championship season, but have also contributed essential leadership and commitment that led to the formation and evolution of the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer).
After Doucette’s son, Brett, was diagnosed with leukemia in 1975. Doucette developed relationships with several members of the medical staff at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital and learned that one of the biggest challenges in combatting childhood cancer locally was a lack of funding. The National Leukemia Society contacted Eddie, knowing his connection to Bucks and son’s battle and Doucette asked doctors if this would help Children’s fundraising efforts. “They told me for every $1 the Society raised, only a small percentage would get back to Milwaukee.” Doucette explains a meeting with Dr. Donald Pinkel, the first director and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Dr. Jim Casper, of today’s Medical College of Wisconsin’s Midwest Children’s Cancer Center, after which it was evident that, “we needed a Wisconsin charity to help Wisconsin.” The day after his conversation with Drs. Pinkel and Casper, Doucette ran into McGlocklin in the Bucks office, and when he explained the need for local support of children’s cancer research and treatment, McGlocklin replied, “Let’s do it!”
After some planning, the idea for the MACC Fund was created and on Dec. 10, 1976, founded during McGlocklin’s halftime retirement ceremony. “People don’t know where the name came from – it’s the “MACC Fund” in honor of “Jonny Mac” and his leadership,” says Doucette. In fact, the acronym originally stood for Milwaukee Athletes Against Childhood Cancer. “We had no idea how this thing would take off” McGlocklin says. Because it grew so rapidly and significantly, the name changed to Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer. “The outpouring has been staggering,” Doucette adds.
The inaugural MACC Fund game was held in 1977, thanks to the efforts of McGlocklin and Doucette, as well as backing from Jim Fitzgerald, Bucks owner at the time. Doucette speaks highly of Fitzgerald in the formation of the MACC Fund: “Jim was incredible in his friendship and support.” Without loyalty and collaboration from Fitzgerald and other Bucks staff including Executive Vice President John F. Steinmiller, over the years, “this would not be possible,” says Doucette. “The association with the Milwaukee Bucks has been the single most important factor in a connection to the community.”
McGlocklin shares that sentiment: “Without the Bucks, there is no MACC Fund. Without the MACC Fund, we do not contribute $50 million to fight childhood cancer. Without that, cure rates would not be so significantly affected. We had the forum – with the game and media opportunities, starting with my retirement night – giving us good exposure and recognition. It would have been IMPOSSIBLE if you went out and tried to start a charity without [that kind of] limelight.”
Undoubtedly the MACC Fund took off thanks in large part to the reputations of McGlocklin and Doucette. It was, according to the men who started the cause, sustained over the years because of the generosity of Bucks fans and people throughout Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
“People took to this thing like you wouldn’t believe. This is a good example of the indigenous support in the city of Milwaukee and state of Wisconsin regarding something of theirs,” Doucette explains.
“It’s people reaching people. What makes this successful is THE PEOPLE,” adds McGlocklin.
Everyone associated with the MACC Fund is proud to tout that, when the MACC Fund began in 1976, the survival rate for childhood cancers and blood disorders was 20%. The MACC Fund played an important role in raising the overall cure rate for childhood cancer to 80%. “My hope is that we continue to do the things we’re doing and some day that 80% might be at 100%,” says McGlocklin. “It’s not just the cure rates [the MACC Fund helps]. It’s prevention, better protocols, better, less invasive treatment.”
“This is a magnificent thing that’s happened here in Wisconsin. Like everything else worthwhile, for the good of somebody else, this thing has taken a life of its own,” says Doucette. “The doctors and the nurses are the real superstars. These are people with gifts. They give of their lives 24/7 to save lives. We owe so much in the way of thanks to the community for their support, which has enabled this disease to be on the decline – it’s not eradicated. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
That is what the Milwaukee Bucks hope to help achieve through efforts like the MACC Fund game, now in its 38th season, thanks to the new Bucks ownership group led by Wes Edens and Marc Lasry continuing this tradition.
“This is a great example of what is good about pro sports and something worthy,” says McGlocklin.
Since the first game in 1977, the Milwaukee Bucks have raised more than $1.4 million, including a $100,000 contribution from Senator Herb Kohl and the Bucks on the occasion of the MACC Fund’s 10th Anniversary, to support cancer and blood disorder research in Wisconsin impacting the treatment of kids in the state, nation and world.
You, too, can be a hero. To contribute to the MACC Fund’s mission to end childhood cancer, in cooperation with Bucks through the 38th annual MACC Fund Game (PDF Flyer)
Thank you, fans, for your support of the Bucks and the MACC Fund!
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