Who We Are
Parents of children with cancer founded the Badger Childhood Cancer Network (BCCN) more than 30 years ago. It was originally known as Capital Candlelighters and it served as a regional support group for families of kids treated for cancer in Madison.
In the late 1990s, the parents decided they wanted to do more to help newly diagnosed children and their families in addition to regular support groups. Over the past 15 years, BCCN has expanded the programs and services we offer to meet the expressed needs of families whose children are on treatment for cancer and life-threatening blood disorders at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison. In late 2010, our board voted to change the group’s name to Badger Childhood Cancer Network to better express who we serve and what we do.
Childhood cancer is the deadliest disease among children in the United States.. Children with cancer are given aggressive treatment regimens that can last from several months to two or three years. These treatments require constant care from a parent. Children with sickle cell disease, the second largest group of kids treated in the pediatric heme-oncology clinic, face a lifetime of health problems; pain crises, blood transfusions, strokes and more. Children and teens with cancer and blood disorders who cannot be cared for in their local community hospital often travel to regional specialty treatment centers, like American Family Children’s Hospital. Many of the kids we serve travel two hours or more each way for tests, treatments and hospitalizations. Surveys of the families indicate that they experience an average drop in family income of 40% or more during the first year after diagnosis for cancer, and a lower level of income loss but over a much longer period of time in the case of children with chronic disorders like sickle cell disease and indolent brain tumors.
Our mission is to educate, support, serve and advocate for children with cancer and blood disorders, their families, survivors of childhood cancer and the professionals who care for them.
To provide appropriate support to children with cancer and blood disorders and their families, from diagnosis to the end of treatment, into survivorship or through bereavement.
Badger Childhood Cancer Network provides compassionate services to all children with cancer and blood disorders in our service area and to their families regardless of religious belief, racial or ethnic background, skin color, marital status, gender, sexual orientation or level of disability. We do not discriminate in employment or in membership to our governing board by race, color, religion, physical ability, national origin, age, gender, marital status or sexual orientation.
Board of Directors & Staff
Nathan Pekul – Vice President
Nathan Pekul is a Tax Credit Manager for Baker Tilly in Madison, Wisconsin working predominately on low-income housing and historic redevelopments nationwide. Nathan has a bachelors in Marketing and International Business from UW-Milwaukee and a MBA in Accounting from The University of Phoenix. He resides in the Madison area with his wife Jenny, daughter Ellie and their dog Luna Mae. Nathan joined the board after his niece lost her battle to cancer and saw firsthand the power of the services and aide the BCCN provides to families.
Kathryn Murphy – Secretary
Kathryn Murphy is the Patient Family Liaison at the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, WI. Murphy is a member of the interdisciplinary team from the University of Wisconsin American Family Children’s Hospital and Clinics and the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Department. Murphy develops and implements patient and family programs and provides additional much-needed resources, including information about Badger Childhood Cancer Network to families of children diagnosed with cancer. This includes providing families with the new diagnosis bags, signing families up for their electronic newsletter and assisting patients with the Hero Bead Program throughout treatment.
Michele Pawlowsky - Treasurer
Michele has been in health care her entire adult life, currently as an RN at the Madison VA hospital. She served in the military, retiring as a Captain after 23 years. Michele is honored to have the opportunity to serve children battling cancer and their families. Michele is married to Mark, a realtor with the Stark company. She has two adult children, Carson and Mikayla. Michele loves spending time with her family and friends.
Susannah Peterson – Executive Director
Susannah currently serves as the Executive Director of BCCN. She has a background in non-profit management, having dedicated many years working for human service organizations. Most recently, Susannah was the Executive Director for the Autism Society of South Central WI. She is humbled by the opportunity now, to lead BCCN and lend her talents toward the organization’s continued growth and mission to serve and support children and families affected by cancer. Susannah shares her life and home with her husband, two daughters and a cat. When not working, Susannah can be found running, cooking and enjoying time with her family.
John Stofflet – President Emeritus
John Stofflet is the 5, 6, & 10 PM news anchor at NBC15 in Madison. Stofflet is a 23-time Emmy Award winner, including two Emmys for “Best Anchor” in the Chicago/Midwest region. Before returning to his hometown of Madison in 2005, Stofflet traveled on assignment to more than 40 countries, and all seven continents for Seattle’s KING-TV and the National Geographic Channel. He has also hosted specials for HGTV. A UW-Madison graduate, Stofflet is involved in a number of area non-profits, and is the proud father of two adult children – a son and daughter.
A native of Rockford, IL, Mike has lived in Madison for over 20 years. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Oregon Law School. He practices law in Madison, primarily handling appellate level case appointments on behalf of the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office. Mike feels fortunate to be able to serve on the BCCN Board and help support children and families affected by cancer.
Cara Connelly is a Wisconsin native who lives in the Madison area with her 5-year-old daughter and their handsome mutt Guapo. She holds a Bachelor of Science-Journalism from Northwestern University and earned her MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cara works in marketing for Exact Sciences, a Madison based company focused on the early detection of cancer. She sees volunteering with BCCN as a way to extend her commitment to the battle against cancer and give support to the children and families of Wisconsin.
Tammy Fitzpatrick is originally from the Sauk Prairie area. She is a Wilms tumor cancer survivor of almost 25 years! She was diagnosed as a 10 year old and had to undergo 18 months of chemotherapy. She is excited to be part of the BCCN board and feels so blessed to have the opportunity to share her story, give back, and ultimately make a difference for children and their families. She has worked for the Ballweg Automotive Family for over 15 years in sales, marketing, business development and currently their Director of Executive Operations. She resides just outside of Sauk City with her husband, Adam and their three children: Blake, Nora, and Collyns.
Kristina Hatch received her bachelor degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2009. She developed a strong interest in the role of gene expression in neonatal and childhood diseases. She received her Ph.D. in 2015 in cell lineage determination; how cells become specialized in utero. By understanding the mechanisms cells use to “program” themselves during development, we can then “re-program” these cancerous cells. Understanding how physically demanding cancer is on the body, it important to support these incredible children and their loving families as they fight childhood cancer.
Megan is a family nurse practitioner in the Madison area. Prior to obtaining her Master’s degree, she worked at AFCH on the hematology/oncology unit for 9 years. She has had the privilege of being a part of this journey with many families and is excited to be able to give back in some way. In her spare time, Megan likes to ride her bike, tell corny jokes, cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Pittsburgh Steelers, knit, cook, and travel the world.