OnFocus 2019 People of the Year

It’s been another year of growth and change in the community, thanks in part to five individuals who made a special impact in 2019.

In recognition of their achievements, OnFocus would like to recognize the following People of the Year:

Karen Rau

In January, Marshfield Area Pet Shelter founder Karen Rau retired from a 38-year career at Marshfield Clinic to step into the full-time role of Executive Director.

That was just the start of a momentous year for MAPS.

In late February, the shelter took on emergency care for a litter of newborn puppies found abandoned in a Marshfield garbage can. The story of the nine “dumpster puppies” drew nationwide attention, including a segment on CBS’s Inside Edition. Throughout it all, Rau represented the shelter in both media and court in the coming months as the case unfolded.

Next, the pet shelter took a giant leap forward in its goal of a permanent shelter with the completion of the design process for a building at 3500 Downwind Drive. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on August 15, and currently about 85 percent has been raised toward the $1.5 million goal. MAPS will be able to move in early next year, fulfilling the vision that had been set out by Rau and volunteers back in 2011.

Throughout the changes, MAPS continued its fundraising efforts. After snowy weather affected attendance at its annual February breakfast, the event was moved to a different date and held again in November, raising $12,400.

In recognition of the year’s accomplishments and close to a decade of commitment to the cause of helping animals, Karen Rau is an OnFocus 2019 Person of the Year.


Steve Burns

The past year was an exciting period of growth and renewal for Marshfield’s top attraction, Wildwood Zoo.

Visitors were given more reasons to stop by the zoo with the opening of the new cougar exhibit and Welcome Center in October, another highlight in the career of Zookeeper Steve Burns since the completion of the state-of-the-art Kodiak bear exhibit in 2015.

Thanks to Burns, the Wildwood Zoo also brought in a new monarch butterfly exhibit after his research into a source for the butterflies connected him with the local Gwiazda family. The new exhibit with its daily releases of newly hatched butterflies proved to be a popular attraction for families this summer.

The Wildwood Zoo received wider media attention after being selected as a stop for a Marshfield episode of PBS’s “Around the Corner with John McGivern,” set to air next spring. It was an opportunity for Burns to highlight the zoo and the bear exhibit in particular.

In mid-November, Burns took charge in a dramatic rescue at the Upper Pond after a dog was spotted struggling to stay afloat in the open water surrounded by ice. Burns came back quickly with an extension ladder, and when the dog wasn’t able to climb up, used it to slide out onto the ice on his stomach. The risky move worked, and he was able to grab the dog by its collar and haul it to safety.

Burns also facilitated the arrival of two mountain goats from Olympic National Park in Washington this November and collaborated with Rotary Winter Wonderland organizers to bring about another successful season which will help fill the shelves of area food pantries.

In recognition of his involvement in the growth of the Wildwood Zoo and dedication to the healthy care of its residents, Steve Burns is an OnFocus 2019 Person of the Year.

Amber Kiggens-Leifheit

Amber Kiggens-Leifheit has been an active volunteer and underlying support for many major projects in the community.

In April, Amber Kiggens-Leifheit concluded her third term on the Marshfield Board of Education, on which she had served many roles as vice president, treasurer, committee chair, and committee representative.

During her time with the school district, she volunteered in classrooms and was a substitute teacher, Pathway Partners Director, grant writer, and 4K preschool manager.

Kiggens-Leifheit stepped down from her role as Executive Director of Marshfield Area Community Foundation, Inc (MACFI) in June. Since 2008, she had overseen the growth of the organization from $2.8 million over 75 funds, to $16.2 million over 215 funds, acting as the fiscal agent for campaigns such as the Wildwood Zoo cougar exhibit and Marshfield Area Pet Shelter permanent facility.

She oversaw the foundation’s largest project ever, the new Marshfield athletic facilities, by overseeing $7,738,000 in gifts from 550 donors. The project broke ground in April and the high school stadium was completed in time for the fall football season. Improvements are ongoing at the Middle School as part of the project.

In May, MACFI moved to its new offices at the 2nd Street Community Center and welcomed a new Executive Director.

In recognition of her longtime involvement in Marshfield’s growth and progress, Amber Kiggens-Leifheit is an OnFocus 2019 Person of the Year.

Dan Neve

Cruise for a Cause founder Dan Neve is an example of how one person can bring together many different individuals in support of a worthy cause.

Neve has raised nearly half a million dollars since 2010 in support of research into breast and prostate cancer, and mobile mammography. This December, he presented a $92,000 check to the Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation, his largest-ever donation.

Fundraising at events across the country, Neve brings about national recognition of central Wisconsin as well as cancer awareness.

After retiring from his career at Staab Construction this November, Neve will continue his fundraising efforts with a goal of surpassing his record in 2020.

In recognition of his decade-long commitment to fundraising for cancer research, Dan Neve is an OnFocus 2019 Person of the Year.

Lincoln Schrock

At age 3, Lincoln was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma in September 2017.

His courage through the many treatments that followed the diagnosis and his childlike faith in God would touch the hearts of tens of thousands of people around the globe who followed his triumphs and setbacks on Facebook. In May 2018, Lincoln became an honorary firefighter of the Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department.

Lincoln tragically passed away on Sept. 19, but his life is a testament to the fact that a person’s impact is not restricted by the number of years they have.

Inspiring a community to “Live Like Lincoln,” his family’s next step is to build a playground in Loyal that he would have enjoyed to honor his memory and repay the support they have received.

More information about fundraising efforts can be found at the Lincoln’s Waves of Love Facebook group. Visit Bonfire.com to purchase a “Live Like Lincoln” T-shirt with proceeds benefiting the playground.

In recognition of his life and impact, Lincoln Schrock is an OnFocus 2019 Person of the Year.




News Desk
Author: News Desk

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