Every year, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) host “Hearts for Helping,” an annual event where the community comes together to celebrate, collaborate, and renew its partnership with BGCDC and raise money for children to have the opportunity to pursue a successful future. This year, the elegant affair will take place on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club.

“This is always a really diverse event. [Boys & Girls Club of Dane County President & CEO] Michael [Johnson] has done a great job making sure that we have Madisonians from all walks of life coming,” Janine Stephens, Chief Development Officer for BGCDC tells Madison365. “It’s really a chance for people to come and have a great time for a great cause while focusing on the kids and raising money for our programs and our new Sun Prairie building.”

This year’s event will have the theme “A Storybook Celebration.”

Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson takes pictures at last year’s Hearts for Helping event.

“We’re celebrating our 10th year of Hearts for Helping this year, so that’s huge for us,” says Stephens. “We have some really exciting components this year that will be different from what we have done in the past. We will really be focusing on the storybook theme and kids being able to tell their stories.

“The whole idea behind the theme is that we’re allowing our kids to be able to tell all of our guests that if they could tell their own story: what would that look like?” she adds.

The evening will showcase some of the finest wines and cheeses from across Wisconsin. Middleton Jewelers will be raffling off a $5,000 opportunity to have a piece of jewelry made right before Valentine’s Day. All proceeds from the event will go toward the 2019 Boys & Girls Club academic and recreational programs, which support and encourage youth to realize their full potential in a fun and educational setting.

Entertainment at “Hearts for Helping” will be provided by Kinfolk Soul Music and Cycropia Aerial Dance.


“We will have Rico Michael Jackson performing at the event, too,” Johnson tells Madison365. “He’s a Michael Jackson lookalike and performer from Chicago. He’s actually performed for Michael Jackson’s parents.

“The program is going to be short this year,” Johnson adds. “We really want to give the people a chance to dance and have fun and really celebrate the work that we’ve done this year. We want folks to have a good time.

Alando Tucker, a former NBA player and the Wisconsin Badger’s all-time leading scorer, who is currently the director of student-athlete engagement at UW will be joining us at Hearts for Helping. Right now, there are close to 400 people signed up for the event. There is still room for more.

“We will also be honoring three key organizations this year with the ‘Hearts for Humanitarian’ award,” Stephens says. “Those awardees are the City of Sun Prairie – the mayor and the entire City Council, Palmer Johnson Power Systems, and UW Health.

Johnson is excited to be back in Madison and at the Boys and Girls Club after a short stint as the CEO of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

The live auction at Hearts for Helping

“Even though I’ve been gone for seven months, I don’t feel like I’ve missed a beat,” Johnson says. “The team did a really great job – Janine [Stephens], Rod [Mitchell] and the team really kept the boat afloat and I’m excited to be back to be of service to others.

“But, man, it’s really great to be back. I was just visiting the Salvation Army and watching what they’re doing to keep people warm these last couple of days. I’ve reconnected with all of these community leaders and Boys and Girls Club stakeholders and donors,” Johnson continues. “I’m really excited about what the future of the Boys and Girls Club is going to look like and about the Sun Prairie facility. We’ve just made the biggest investment in the history of the Club out there.

“If you just think about the theme of the event around telling kids stories … we hope that a decade from now that there will be a lot of kids from Sun Prairie who will be able to tell their stories on how the Boys and Girls Club and their stakeholders impacted their lives, too.”

What’s your favorite part of the annual Hearts for Helping event?

“The end! When it’s all over,” Johnson laughs. “I don’t really enjoy the event until we raise every penny that we set out to raise. Usually right before the dancing starts is when we announce that we’ve hit our goal and then I’m able relax then and go out and hit the dance floor.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County’s 10th annual Hearts for Helping event will be held Friday, Feb. 8 at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club. For more information, click here.