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The flow cytometry facility at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research is an incredibly important asset for research projects at the UW Carbone Cancer Center. Because of this, there can be a wait time to schedule use of the powerful, high-precision instruments that allow researchers to observe and identify characteristics of cells.
However, thanks to a generous donation years ago from the Badger Jim Beam Club, researchers also have access to a bench-top device that allows researchers to observe cells in a more general, high-level sense and free up more time in the flow cytometry facility’s
“That device is so helpful to our researchers,” said Dr. Jackie Hank, a research professor in the Department of Human Oncology. “We didn’t have any money from grants to buy something like that, but with the club’s donations we were able to have that additional item. It’s very helpful in getting accurate cell counts for our experiments.”
Badger Jim Beam Club, a nonprofit social organization with a charitable mission, has been a faithful supporter of UW Carbone for more than 40 years, raising more than $140,000 in that time through fundraising from the local club, its international affiliate, and personal gifts from club members. Hank said that steadfast commitment has been an important part of advancing UW Carbone’s life-saving mission.
“They have been such generous, kind people,” said Hank. “We’ve had such a long-term relationship with them, and I think it’s been very beneficial on both sides.”
Hank has been UW Carbone’s liaison for the club since 1981, when she first attended the club’s Christmas party to accept a donation check. She and her husband look forward to attending the party every year, socializing with the members and offering updates on research work being done by UW Carbone.
“I think it helped people get more involved and put more money into donations,” longtime club member and current president Cecil Gillingham said of Hank’s presence. “The people there could understand what it was all about and what they were using the money for.”
Hank said it’s important to make sure the club members know their donations are appreciated and put to good use. In 2011, club members got the chance to see their donations in action when Hank organized a lab visit.
After a presentation about research work, club members toured the lab spaces and saw examples of how their donations have been useful, including financing a safety hood.
“People enjoyed hearing Jackie tell us how the money has been used,” Gillingham said. “It was a nice gesture, and we got to see where the work was being done.”
Gillingham, a club member since the 1970s who has held several leadership roles, has been closely involved with running the fundraisers for UW Carbone. In addition to the club’s collective efforts, Gillingham said that he and other members have made many personal donations over the years as well.
“It’s fulfilling to be that involved,” he said of the club’s legacy.