Greg Gard’s on-court resume is impressive.
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach has led the Badgers to NCAA Tournament berths in five of his first six seasons and is one of only three coaches in the last 20 years to lead his team to Sweet 16 appearances in his first two seasons.
Off the court, however, is where Gard is truly having the biggest impact on the state.
Along with his wife, Michelle, Gard established the Garding Against Cancer initiative in December 2016 after the death of his father, Glen, from glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain cancer. To date, GAC has raised more than $5 million statewide to support cancer research, as well as cancer patients and their families.
A Garding Against Cancer fundraiser is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 20, at Genisa Wine Bar in Janesville. All proceeds will remain in the area and will support the Rock County Cancer Coalition, Jefferson County Cancer Coalition and local patient care at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Janesville and Mercyhealth hospital in Janesville and Whitewater.
The event is a springboard for the men’s basketball exhibition game between Wisconsin and UW-Whitewater, set for Oct. 29. Gard and UW-Whitewater coach Pat Miller are longtime friends.
Cancer affects everyone, and Gard said it’s important for his initiative and fundraising campaign to encircle the state.
“My wife and I have always philanthropically supported cancer research, but when my dad got it, and knowing how treacherous it was for all of us during his six-month battle, it made it personal,” Gard said. “This initiative allowed us to wrap our arms around the state and support cancer research and cancer care wherever needed. And the support we’ve gotten statewide has been overwhelming.
“The UW Carbone Cancer Center in Madison is the main beneficiary of our fundraising, but we’re making inroads at many other places around the state with our patient-focused initiatives. And now, thanks to Pat’s leadership and strong relationship with the Whitewater and Janesville communities, we were able to get boots on the ground and make Janesville a perfect landing spot.”
The Janesville GAC event begins at 4 p.m. at Genisa with a meet-and-greet with coach Gard and his wife, followed by general admittance for all ticket holders of the event at 5:30 p.m.
Janesville native Greg Hughes owns Genisa. Hughes Senior Vice President of Communications for NBC and the NBC Sports Group, said the event will be special.
“Bucky Badger will be there along with some other surprises,” said Hughes, who will emcee the event. “Pat did all the footwork and deserves a lot of credit, so we’re going to do all we can on our end at Genisa to make this a special night. The Packers play that night, so we’ll wrap everything up by 7:15, and those attending will be able to watch the game on one of our new big-screen TVs.
“We know there are probably going to be some people that want to attend that don’t have a ticket because it was sold out, and we don’t want to turn anyone away, so we’re going to try and have our patio available for those who can’t get in. It’s going to be a great night for a great cause.”
Genisa will have a full menu available for the first time by September 20 and also features an extensive wine list.
The Sugar Exchange and 808 Cheesecake of Janesville are donating desserts
Gard said single tickets are still available for the event and can be purchased at the gardingagainstcancer.org/events website. Sponsorships also are available at the GAC website.
“There’s a commonality with cancer in all of us,” Gard said. “This is a chance to give back and help us in our fight against this terrible disease.
“Michelle and I are looking forward to getting down to Janesville. I might even give a little preview of our upcoming season that’s right around the corner.”