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Faces of Prostate Cancer

Michelle Hupfer

Everyday Heroes

Since she began her fundraising efforts, Michelle Hupfer has raised more than $120,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) through golf programs in honor of her father, Bruce Hupfer, who passed away from Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer in 2006 at the age of 59. Both having a passion for golf, Michelle and her father had an incredibly strong bond. She has continued to live a life to honor his legacy; one of humor, intelligence and a love for the game.

Michelle’s fundraising efforts began in 2004, shortly after her dad was diagnosed. After reading an article on Arnie’s Army Battles Prostate Cancer, Michelle organized a par 3 contest at Arboretum Golf Club in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, raising a total of $5,600 in the first two years. Founder of the program, Arnold Palmer, survived his own battle with the disease and set up Arnie’s Army Battles Prostate Cancer to create awareness and raise funds to fight the disease through golf. Proceeds from his events also benefit PCF. Michelle has continued to support the cause through this program since her initial contest in 2004.

Eventually, Michelle was ready to conquer a golf tournament on her own, one that would solely benefit PCF and one she could create with her own vision. The Bruce Alan Hupfer Memorial Golf Tournament came to fruition and in its first year, attracted 35 attendees and raised over $15,000 at Prairie Isle Golf Course in Prairie Grove.

The second annual event was an even bigger success, bringing more attendees and more dollars – over $27,500 in total. Michelle finished her fourth annual event in 2010 (an additional $27,000 raised) and is now beginning to plan the 2011 tournament. Her successful fundraising events have directly benefited researcher Arul Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, and team at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The Michigan prostate cancer team focuses on genomics and late-stage metastatic disease research, a cause that is close to Hupfer’s heart.

“My dad suffered from a horrible disease,” shared Michelle. “Even though he isn’t around anymore, it gives me great satisfaction knowing that others will be cured.” As Michelle continues to honor her father’s legacy through fundraising, she also honors him through her professional and educational endeavors.

After graduating from Northern Illinois University (NIU) where Michelle was a member of the golf team, she began a year-long job as a logistics analyst. It was during this year when Bruce was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and Michelle recognized how much she missed the sport of golf while working as a business professional.

This realization shifted her life focus, and she began working in the golf business and finished her PGA certification requirements. Then — after her father's passing — she earned her Master's degree in Business Administration. She went back to school for her Master’s degree largely for her father, who also earned a Master's at NIU. Today, Michelle works at the Biltmore Country Club in Barrington, Illinois as an Assistant Golf Professional and is also a Member of the PGA, allowing her to honor her father through both golf and her career.

“My father lived his life with the motto, never give up and always strive for success,” shared Michelle. “He exemplified this stance on life until his death, teaching me to always set goals and strive for improvement. His advice, knowledge and humor were the drive to get me to where I am today.

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