Skip navigation

WLC Team Wins Kapco Charitable Challenge

November 18, 2016

Band practice

WLC Team Wins Kapco Charitable Challenge

MILWAUKEE, WI - On November 16 at Turner Hall in downtown Milwaukee, “Better Than We Found It,” a team of students from Wisconsin Lutheran College, was declared the winner of the 2016 Kapco Charitable Challenge.

The Challenge, funded by Kapco Metal Stamping in Grafton, Wisconsin, and its President, Jim Kacmarcik, was created to help develop leadership and business skills in young people while aiding Milwaukee-area nonprofit organizations and encouraging students to “pay it forward.”

WLC was honored to have two teams among the four finalists, having competed with groups from three larger universities in the area, with “Teens for Transformation” competing as WLC's other finalist. These two WLC teams reached a combined 265,000 people, raised nearly $30,000, and directly impacted 11 local organizations during the seven-week Challenge.

“All of our students who participated in the event took time from their busy academic schedules to serve as Christian leaders, making an impact on thousands of lives right here in our own community,” said Dr. Daniel W. Johnson, President of WLC. “Praise God for this opportunity.”

The Kapco Charitable Challenge launched in September, with multiple teams of students from four institutions: Wisconsin Lutheran College, Cardinal Stritch University, Concordia University Wisconsin, and UW-Milwaukee. Each team received $1,000 in seed money from Kapco. Four teams from WLC, comprised of 34 students, took part in Round 1 of the Challenge.

At the kickoff event, held at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on September 27, President Johnson was invited to speak to the audience about WLC's involvement in the 2010 edition of the Challenge. He said, “We participated in this several years ago, and I can tell it made a tremendous impact on our WLC students who were involved, not to mention the community members who were blessed by it as well.”

The goals for the 2016 Challenge, as established by Kapco, included the following: develop leadership, marketing, event management, and business skills; instill the value of giving; mobilize thousands to get involved in nonprofit endeavors; impact lives; and demonstrate how seed investments can be leveraged to substantially impact others. 

“The Challenge was meant to be fun, to bring people together, and to make an impact on our greater community,” said Barb Westness, WLC's Director of Student Programming. “It was an amazing opportunity for students to be directly involved with something larger than ourselves that extends into the community and share who we are with others." 

After judging for the first round, four teams moved on to the next phase of the Challenge. Each team came up with a plan to help a nonprofit organization or project of their choice in southeastern Wisconsin. Students used their skills in marketing, event management, fundraising, public relations, marketing, social media and public speaking to accomplish the Challenge's goals.

The main project of team Better Than We Found It was to organize bike drives at schools around Wisconsin. They picked up more than 260 bicycles, which they delivered to DreamBikes in Milwaukee's Brewers Hill neighborhood. The bikes will be refurbished by young people who are gaining work experience and sold to people in the area who need bikes for transportation. 

The Teens for Transformation team recruited teens from the Don and Sallie Davis Boys and Girls Club to take part in a five-day service challenge. They led the teens into their own community to use their talents and abilities to help those in need. Projects included a neighborhood cleanup, making care packages for a homeless shelter, and serving food for a free meal program.

The final teams made their presentations in front judges, their peers, and college representatives at Turner Hall in November. After deliberating, the judges named WLC's team Better Than We Found It the overall winner of the Challenge.

“The 2016 Kapco Charitable Challenge was a contest unlike any other, because ultimately everyone who was involved won!” said Westness. “The participants set goals, accomplished amazing tasks, made an impact in the greater Milwaukee community, found creative ways to meet the needs of others, and grew as teams and individuals.”

2016 Kapco Charitable Challenge

View photos from the 2016 Kapco Charitable Challenge.

Better Than We Found It

Nonprofits helped: DreamBikes, Lighthouse Youth Center, Milwaukee Rescue Mission, Sherman Park Lutheran School
Team members: Amber Bilitz, Andrea Bilitz, Esther Harbach, Samantha Huebner, Jessica Mooty, Adam Pagel, Samantha Paton, Curtis Piek, Emma Tollenaar, and Nathan Wolfrath.

Update (March 2017): The team continues to work with Lighthouse Youth Ministries and is planning an educational hiking trip to a local state park for the youth. 


Story on

Story on CBS 58

Teens for Transformation

Nonprofits helped: House of Love Youth Homes, Hope House of Milwaukee, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Don and Sallie Davis Boys and Girls Club, Milwaukee County Veterans Services, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Lutheran Home 
Team members: Alexandra Bazile-Martinez, Gelila Gabayehu, Kenya Green, Jada Henderson, Helen Joyce, Martharoot Malungu, and Libby Schellpfeffer.

Update (March 2017): The team continues to meet weekly with the youth at the Boys and Girls Club for conversations about leadership and service projects.


Dig Deep MKE

Nonprofit helped: Cross Trainers Academy 
Team members: Veronica Anderson, Ayla Baewer, Bethany Beer, Hannah Gerbing, Marisah Hilger, Lauren Howard, Savannah Kubis, Brianna LeFebre, Angela Lendt, Matthew Plaski, and Kendra Schleg

Update (March 2017):  The team is working with Cross Trainers Academy and Milwaukee Rescue Mission to hold a youth prom this spring.


Team Storm

Nonprofit helped: Sherman Park Lutheran School
Team members: Jeremy Fierros, Steve Griebenow, Katy Jahns, Emma Poetter, Greta Sievert, and Madeline Wunderle