By Sarah Rennicke
News Graphic Correspondent
CEDARBURG — An impromptu raffle in 1999 raised $350 to donate to the Special Olympics in memory of Tom “Mel” Stanton’s friend’s sister, who died from cancer and left behind a special needs daughter.
From there, Mel’s Charities was born, its mission specializing in having fun while funding special needs organizations, memorial scholarships and human services; 100 percent of proceeds go directly back to the community.
It has seen incredible grassroots growth since its inception, with this weekend marking the 19th annual Mel’s Pig Roast and eighth annual Fun Run at Cedars III in Cedarburg. Now, the organization has set its sights on building for the future.
They mulled over practical sustainability, and thanks to the generosity of a former Cedarburg native, may have found an answer.
Jamie Trenter, Stanton’s longtime friend from their University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh days, grew up in Ozaukee County and is now a vice president/partner with a commercial insurance brokerage in Portland, Ore. He’s been a Mel’s Charities advocate since day one and has flown across the country to attend pig roasts, shipped auction items home and dove into the heartfelt efforts of the organization’s mantra, Great Times for Great Causes.
Inspired by the charm of the community in which he grew up and surrounding foundations, Trenter wanted to do more. When he recently rearranged his will, Trenter called Stanton to say he allotted $250,000 to Mel’s Charities.
“I grew up in Ozaukee County and had a great childhood,” Trenter said. “I’ve been all over the world, and there are very few places like Cedarburg.
“I’m proud of Mel and what he’s been accomplishing, and how (the foundation) continues to grow,” he added. Allocating will assets to Mel’s Charities may be the catalyst to help countless more kids in the community for years to come.
This concept marks a momentum shift for Mel’s Charities long-term. “It’s tough to put in words how much I appreciate his thoughtfulness,” said Stanton. “Jamie brought it all up about this legacy building. His heart is in the right place.”
Floored by how what started as an excuse for a good time has evolved into doing good for thousands of lives impacted throughout Ozaukee County, Stanton’s ready to raise the bar even higher.
“I look back at the first pig roast and laugh,” he said. “Now, as we start sustaining efforts, I know I’ll look back on this and laugh,” hoping Trenter’s allocation is incentive for others to consider a legacy gift of their own, ensuring many more Great Times for Great Causes.
Posted on Sun, October 15, 2017
by Tom Stanton