As Peg Lucas was getting ready for work one morning in the spring of 2002, a local news segment piqued her interest. Pat Anderson, one of the founders of what was formerly known as Madison Friends of Gilda’s, was sharing more about a support community that she and other Madison-area residents formed to help those affected by cancer. The timing was serendipitous, as Peg had recently finished a People magazine article about Gilda Radner. “I thought, ‘You know, Madison needs something like this.’ And this story touches me because when I went through my first cancer in the early 1980s, there was nothing. And I needed something because I was in my early 30s at that time and had to face a hysterectomy because of cancer.” Not only has Peg experienced cancer personally, not once but twice, her friends and loved ones have faced the disease, including both of her parents.
A Chance to Give Back
A lifelong Madison resident, apart from short stints in Atlanta and Chicago, Peg felt compelled to give back to the city she loved and picked up the phone to call Pat Anderson. “I thought this would be a good way to pay back the city for all the blessings that I’ve had and to give people who have cancer something that I didn’t have, the support that is so critical to get you through.”
Following their first conversation, Pat invited Peg to join the fundraising committee, and together, they started meeting with others in Pat’s home. Funds were light in the early days, and the group faced an uphill battle. They were told on multiple occasions that a group of this nature would never make it in Madison. “But the minute someone tells me I can’t do something, that’s all I need. And in the back of my head, I thought, ‘Just watch us.'”
One Monday evening in the early fall of 2002, Peg received a call from Cindy Alvarez. The call was in response to a letter Peg sent to Cindy and husband Barry, encouraging them to get involved in the Gilda’s Club Madison community. The Alvarez’s were eager to jump in and lend support, and the puzzle pieces were steadily falling into place.
Memories and Laughs
As Peg reflects on her time with Gilda’s, she fondly recalls a series of lively fundraisers, including a stand-up comedy show with UW alum Jeff Cesario, a dueling piano event, and a radiothon where she distributed free lunch tickets to donors through her role at CUNA. These initiatives raised vital funds, fostered community support, and left a lasting impact.
A Lifelong Bucky Fan
Peg’s love for UW runs deep, and she has been attending games since third grade. She and her husband Mike, who is a freelance writer for The Capital Times and a former color analyst for Wisconsin football and basketball, live on the far west side of Madison with their rescue dog, Molly.
If you ask Peg Lucas about her efforts to support Gilda’s Club Madison in the formative days, she humbly deflects the spotlight. But thanks to the tireless efforts and resilience of the Gilda’s Club Madison early founders like her, a legacy of compassion and support endures, providing comfort to those facing cancer and their families.