James W. Pihos Award


Pihos Portrait

The story of the Milwaukee Ronald McDonald House begins with the passion, spirit and heart of James W. Pihos. As one of the founding members of RMHC, the grand opening of the House in 1984 was James’ proudest moment. James served as the House Chairman of the Board from 1983-1986 and Senior Chairman of the Board from 1987-2011.

In honor of James’ love and commitment to RMHC, we introduced the James W. Pihos Award in 2011 to recognize and honor an individual, corporation, foundation or organization for their dedication to the mission of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin through their vision, passion and philanthropic support.

The award was first bestowed in 2011 to mark the 25th anniversary of Chefs’ Dinner. Recipients to-date include the following:

Ann Phillips

2019 Ann Phillips

For the past 17 years, Ann Phillips has nurtured the Secret Garden and the families who call our Ronald McDonald House home. In 2002, Ann, a University of Wisconsin Extension Certified Master Gardener, helped organize our first group of volunteer gardeners. Today she leads a team of 22 Master Gardeners as they care for the Secret Garden and create environments that attract and protect area wildlife. Ann’s passion and dedication have helped create a private and safe respite for our children, their families and the volunteers and staff– in every season.

When Ann is not physically in the garden, she is thinking about what needs to be done or planning the next project or the next installation of plants. Always at her side, sharing a smile is her husband Ken. Ann and Ken are in the garden in all kinds of weather making sure that everything is perfect for our families.

NWM Foundation
NWM

2018 Northwestern Mutual Foundation

Northwestern Mutual dreams big and strives to improve the lives of children and families and make a lasting impact in the communities they serve. Together with their partners, they are improving education; revitalizing neighborhoods; enhancing Milwaukee by ensuring it is an inviting and exciting place to live, work and play; and accelerating the search for cures for childhood cancer.

In 2013, Northwestern Mutual Foundation embraced the idea of supporting a program that would touch each of our families – food – and partnered with us to launch the Healthy Food Program.  This program has enhanced the impact we have on each family who calls our House “home”. Families have access to fresh fruit, lunches to take with them to the hospital, and on Fridays when we have no family dinner, NM employees prepare “make ahead” meals for our families to enjoy.

Denny Buchan

2017 Denny Buchan

Denny has been involved since the beginning, serving as one of the House’s founding members. Both Denny and his wife Jean’s dedication evolved from their personal loss and the desire to help others.

At the age of 2 ½, Denny and Jean’s daughter, Amy, tragically lost her battle to cancer. She had suffered from neuroblastoma for two years. During Amy’s illness, Jean found herself spending the entire day at Children’s Hospital, then rushing home to freshen up and eat, only to return to the hospital. She recalls “having no place to talk to other parents who also had seriously ill children. There wasn’t a place to take a shower, a nap or unwind with a cup of coffee.” Jean also recognized that parents from out of town did not have an inexpensive place to stay overnight. As a result, Denny and Jean founded Living One Day At A Time (LODAT), a local parent support group for those who have children with cancer, in December 1975.

In 1978, McDonald’s Co-Op of Southeastern Wisconsin approached LODAT and asked if they were interested in supporting the building of a Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee. LODAT immediately accepted the proposition and Denny, then president of LODAT, began the tireless work to make a dream come true. The House opened in 1984 after a few years of fundraising and a year of construction. For the first two years, Denny served as the President on the Board of Directors and today, still remains an active Board Member.

Bob Monday

2016 Bob Monday

Bob Monday is a man who embodies the phrase “Pay It Forward.”  His involvement with the House has been multifaceted and started with co-chairing three successful Black Tie Galas and organizing the Sarah Stride Run in honor of his friend’s daughter, Sarah Hegarty, who had passed away from cancer. He also organized a Gallery Night at the House, which raised awareness and funds for our mission and featured the photography and artistry of Donna Strong.

Bob served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the House from 2010 to 2013 and was Chairman of the Steering Committee which was responsible for the House expansions’ Opening More Doors Capital Campaign.

Bob’s passion, tenacity, business acumen and personal connections helped raise $8.5 million for the 2014 expansion. Bob’s ability to “open doors” on behalf of our mission helped make the Capital Campaign a great success.

Ann and David

2015 David Rause 

After spending 55 years, first as an employee, then as an owner/operator in the McDonald’s system, David Rause has lived the mission of giving back; his long association with Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin is but one chapter in his life of sharing. Dave began working at McDonald’s in 1973 where his father Walter had been store owner/operator since 1959.  This store, located on Military Road in Fond du Lac, was the 100th McDonald’s store in the entire system.

Dave transitioned to owner of this store in the early 1970’s where his passion and motivation continued. Dave’s relentless quest for excellence, caring for his employees that goes beyond lip service and his love of the McDonald’s brand have all contributed to Dave’s success and eventually owning seventeen stores. His son Dave W. continued down the family path and after working at his father’s stores during high school and college, Dave W. is now, himself, an owner/operator.

After joining the RMHC Board of Directors in 1987, Dave has used his network of friends in the Fox Valley business community to share the message of the House. Additionally, Dave has sponsored the Valley Management Golf Outing benefiting RMHC.

2014 Sensient/Ken and Maureen Manning

2013 Karl and Karen Kitzinger

2012 Jeff Steren

2011 Knut Apitz

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