Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee
Press Release

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Experienced a Record-Breaking Night at the MVP Salute to Youth Event

The event was back for the first time since 2019, was attended by more than 500 people and raised more than $1 million dollars.

By - May 23rd, 2023 04:56 pm
Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

Link to MVP Video Content:

MILWAUKEE– (May 23, 2023) Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM) was delighted to host its 2023 MVP Salute to Youth event Monday evening at the Wisconsin Center. After a four-year hiatus the event returned with its largest number of attendees in BGCGM history, for a dinner and celebration that honored youth, individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to BGCGM.

“We were thrilled to be back for the MVP Salute to Youth celebration,” BGCGM President and CEO, Kathy Thornton-Bias said. “Our theme for the event was ‘We Open Doors,’ and when Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee open our doors, children and teens in our community are provided safe spaces, mentorship, academic support, leadership training, career readiness, and college preparation, all of which will empower them to open doors for themselves as they become the next generation of leaders in Milwaukee. It was great to be back together with over 500 supporters at the Wisconsin Center. We deeply appreciate our presenting sponsor, Johnson Financial Group and Jim Popp, as well as our other sponsors and our honorees Keith (Mardak), Thelma (Sias), Jason (Allen), Children’s Wisconsin, and Mia (Moore).”

The highlight of the evening was honoring Keith Mardak with the MVP Award, which is given to an individual for truly outstanding community involvement and service to the children of Milwaukee. Mr. Mardak is known for his leadership of the Hal Leonard music publishing company as well as his business interests in the Wisconsin Athletic Club, Lowlands Restaurant Group, and SED Restaurant Group. He has been an active and valuable member of the BGCGM Board of Trustees for nearly 30 years.

“I was honored to receive the MVP award, thank you to Kathy and the Clubs,” Mr. Mardak said. “The true MVPs are the staff who make such a tremendous difference in the lives of kids in Milwaukee, and the kids who step to the plate and embrace all that the Boys & Girls Clubs have to offer. We are celebrating the 40th anniversary of girls becoming part of our Clubs. The Milwaukee Clubs have always been leaders in the movement, and we welcomed girls seven years before the national organization. The MVP honor is not just about me, it’s also about my wife, Mary (Vandenberg), and all the contributions she has made over the years. As a couple, Mary and I recognize how much can be achieved when you combine strengths and Mary has been instrumental in helping to shape the gender-specific programming at the Clubs.”

Thelma Sias earned the Annabell Cook Whitcomb Award, named after the founder of the Boys’ Busy Life Club 136 years ago. This recognition honors a friend of the Clubs who exemplifies Annabell Cook Whitcomb’s spirit and energy. Ms. Sias served as Vice President of We Energies and is the founder and CEO of The Sias Group LLC. She has been supporting BGCGM for over 12 years, including nine years as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Jason Allen, partner, and business lawyer with Foley and Lardner LLP, was honored with the Irving J. Seher Award, named after a former executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs and given to an alumnus who exemplifies the mission of the Clubs.

In addition, Mia Moore was honored as 2023 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Youth of the Year. Established in 1947, Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program for Club members ages 14 – 18. Youth of the Year participants compete with their fellow Club members at local, state regional and national competitions with scholarships available to winners at every level. Moore is a junior at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee with numerous accolades to her name including, class president, a student in the BGCGM Graduation Plus Program, co-chair of the Milwaukee Youth Commission and is a member of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council.

Along with the individual awards, Children’s Wisconsin was honored with the Fred F. Loock Memorial Award, named after the President of the Board of Trustees from 1953 – 1956, and presented to an outstanding corporation or organization devoted to helping youth achieve richer and fuller lives.

The 2023 MVP Salute to Youth event raised over $1M which will go directly to BGCGM to support Milwaukee’s youth.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM) is one of the largest and longest youth-serving agencies in Milwaukee and the largest Boys & Girls Club in the country. With more than 50 locations in the city of Milwaukee, BGCGM provides youth ages 4-18 with safe, fun, enriching after-school and summer programming including academic support, mentorship, organized athletics, arts, and nutritious meals. Our programs strengthen academic performance, build character, encourage healthy lifestyles, and meet the basic needs of Milwaukee’s youth. More than 80 percent of BGCGM’s annual budget goes toward youth programming. Learn more at

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. While it is believed to be reliable, Urban Milwaukee does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

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