GREEN BAY — Alan Hischke was scrolling through packers.com earlier this summer when he came across a link calling for applicants for the Green Bay Packers Foundation’s annual grant program.
Noticing the deadline was only five days away, Hischke quickly mentioned it to his wife, Danae, to gauge her interest about a potential submission on behalf of their non-profit organization, Living Loud Inc., which they founded following the passing of their son, Jordan, in June 2012.
While new to the process, Danae and Alan were thrilled when they received word that Living Loud would be one of 316 groups awarded a total of $800,000 from the Green Bay Packers Foundation, which was founded in 1986 by Judge Robert J. Parins.
“When (Alan) told me that, I was like, well I want to try it,” Danae said. “So when we got it, my confidence was through the roof. It was like, ‘Yes. We can write a grant.’ It’s a huge boost for us.”
The grant will go towards the helping hand bags that Living Loud funds in partnership with ASPIRO, Inc., and St. Vincent Hospital-Child Life Department.
The bags are used to provide essential supplies to parents who experience an unexpected hospital stay with their child. It includes change for vending machines, toothbrushes and toothpaste, slipper socks, flip flops and more.
Living Loud also creates bags for the kids who are hospitalized for the first time, providing plush blankets, stuffed animals, games and board games.
Individuals with developmental disabilities help purchase, assemble and deliver the bags to St. Vincent Hospital through a working relationship with ASPIRO, where Jordan worked for a year before his diagnosis.
In the first four months of this program more than 100 bags and 15 blankets, tied together by high school students in the special education program at Menominee Indian High School, have been delivered.
Living Loud’s hope is to expand the program in years to come to other hospitals and service industries employing people with developmental disabilities.
“I knew we had to do something to preserve his memory,” Danae said. “I think that’s just a parent-grieving thing. You don’t want them to not exist somehow, but what to do was the trouble. That took us quite a while to narrow down what we wanted to do.”
Known for his loving, energetic personality, Jordan was diagnosed at 22 years old with spinal cord glioblastoma, an incurable, rare form of brain cancer that left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
Jordan bravely battled the disease for 3½ years after initially being given 6-10 months to live. After his passing, Danae wanted to do something to carry on his legacy and support a cause close to Jordan, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age.
“The hole that he has left in our life – because he was such a big personality – he made everybody feel so loved,” Danae said. “When you come through the door after work and he’d be on the couch, and be like, ‘Hello,’ really loud and his face would light up. He’d do that for his brothers and his dad. For us, he was the definition of somebody who could love unconditionally.”
The Hischkes’ connection with the Packers began around the same time as Jordan’s diagnosis. A graduate of Syble Hopp, Jordan developed a close friendship with Packers Hall of Fame safety Johnnie Gray, who worked at the school designed for children with disabilities.
Jordan also connected with former Packers fullback John Kuhn, whom he met during a Children with Cancer holiday party in 2009. The two took a picture together that Kuhn eventually signed for Jordan.
“Whenever the game would be on, he’d watch the game and the crowd would always yell ‘Kuuuuhhn’ and (Jordan) would look and say, ‘John Kuhn’s my friend,’” Danae said.
Living Loud’s efforts started with the annual Jordan’s Walk & Roll event at Donald J. Schneider Stadium in De Pere for families and individuals with autism and continued to grow from there.
The Hischkes were thrilled to find out last month they were among the groups selected for the grants, though Danae jokes that it was difficult to keep it a secret for a month.
The 316 grants totaling $800,000 were up from $600,000 spread over 236 recipients last year. The Packers Foundation has awarded $1.3 million in grants this year after awarding a pair of $250,000 impact grants to the Jackie Nitschke Center and St. Nobert College in July.
According to Terry Fulwiler, chairperson of the Foundation, the 316 grants were comprised of 76 groups related to education, 64 human services, 44 health and wellness, 23 hunger relief, 22 homeless relief, 21 civic and community organizations, 19 arts and culture, 18 athletics and fitness, 13 drug and alcohol abuse, seven animal welfare, four religious, three environmental, one military and one elderly.
Sixty-three grants, including Living Loud, Inc., were award to Brown County organizations, aggregating $172,100.
The grants were a component of the Packers’ overall charitable efforts, which totaled more than $6.5 million in 2016.
“For a lot of us who work with the Packers, this is one of our favorite events to see firsthand the impact we’re having across the state,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “It’s also important for us to be able to support communities this way. The Packers would not be here without our local community and communities across the state.”