MU serves as starting line for Briggs and Al’s run

The+45th+Briggs+and+Als+run+took+place+Sept.+17.

Photo by Tim Littau

The 45th Briggs and Al’s run took place Sept. 17.

The Briggs and Al’s run was started 45 years ago by former Marquette University men’s basketball head coach, Al McGuire. Today, Marquette is still involved in the event and offers their campus up to be the starting line for the race.

“He [Al McGuire] wanted to give back to Children’s [Wisconsin] … so now we’re really excited that we can still be on the campus of Marquette,” Christine Baranoucky, vice president for engagement and stewardship at Children’s Wisconsin, said.

Peggy Troy, a Marquette alum and current president and CEO at Children’s Wisconsin, said she is really grateful to Marquette for allowing the university to host it throughout the years.

“I get the opportunity to interact with Marquette, and it’s such a strong relationship- many of the graduates of Marquette end up working at Children’s, so we’re grateful for that because we’re always really appreciative of the education Marquette provides, just to be the difference, and you want to be the difference in kids lives,” Troy said.

The Briggs and Al’s Run and Walk for Children’s Wisconsin was held Sept. 17. Over 8,000 participants gathered on Wisconsin Avenue to support the hospital and patients.

This year, Baranoucky said there were a record number of Children’s Champions at the event, with over 1,700. Children’s Champions are children who are either former patients or current patients at Children’s Wisconsin.

“In the past, we’ve had about 1,000, so this year it’s really going to be amazing to see all of those orange shirts on Wisconsin Avenue,” Baranoucky said.

Baranoucky said the event helps Children’s Wisconsin raise money for treatment that isn’t covered by insurance and isn’t covered by Medicaid. It supports their research, their advocacy, pet therapy, art therapy and more.

“[It goes towards] all the things that make us special and allow kids to be kids when they’re under our care,” Baranoucky said.

The event normally raises nearly $1 million annually. Baranoucky said that in their 44 years, they have raised over $21 million.

In previous years, the run had to be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, Troy said it’s exciting to be back.

“To see the 8,000 plus people come back today is really exciting,” Troy said.

Baranoucky said her favorite part about the event is seeing all of the patient families and community supporters come together in support of Children’s Wisconsin.

“That’s the purpose of this whole event: to bring the families and the community together and rally and support Children’s Wisconsin, so you can’t really do that virtually, so it’s just going to be nice to have everyone on Wisconsin Avenue supporting,” Baranoucky said.

Troy said Children’s Wisconsin is appreciative for all of Marquette’s help with the event.

Troy also said she’s grateful for basketball coaches Shaka Smart and Megan Duffy and their players who came out to the run. She said that the kids look up to the players and love seeing them.

“The most touching part about the day to me is just to see the 8,000 people, the 1,700 kids, the support for what we do because our work is hard,” Troy said. “It’s so fun to see the families because they’ve had experiences in the hospital, and they can come back and really help us do what we do.”

Emil Neidinger, a Slinger Wisconsin resident and participant of the Briggs and Al’s run, has participated in the event for the past 45 years. He showed up wearing the original t-shirt from the first ever Briggs and Al’s Run that was signed by Al McGuire 10 years later.

“[I] didn’t plan on being in 45 events, but once I started and got up around 15 or so, then it’s like ‘oh no I’m going to do it every year now from here on in no matter what,'” Neidinger said. “This year I’m walking it … I just can’t do it running, so I’ll walk it, but I’m here.”

Members from the Marquette running club were also present at the event. Zachary Swanson, a senior in the College of Engineering and president of the running club, said there were about 20 members participating in the 8k.

“It’s not something just for Milwaukee or Marquette; it brings kind of both communities together,” Swanson said. “I would say, my best part was right on the starting line because it starts right outside the Church of Gesu, so it shows you just how much it means to the Marquette community, and how much Marquette means to Milwaukee.”

Troy said that the most exciting part of the event is watching the families and loyal individuals cross the finish line. She said that it warms her heart to see all of the support for Children’s Wisconsin.

“There’s lots of other families … that might be going through a tough situation and there’s that unity sense that people are all in this together,” Baranoucky said. “There’s a lot of families that they meet each other and they talk about their experience … There’s just so much community building that happens today.”

Timothy Littau contributed to this report.

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached at [email protected]