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MDA Mourns the Loss of Former National Goodwill Ambassador Mike Neufeldt

Today the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) mourns the loss of Mike Neufeldt, 37, of New Berlin, Wis. — a voluntary leader, ambassador and beloved member of the MDA family who had a tremendous positive impact on MDA’s mission to save and improve the lives of those fighting neuromuscular diseases, including the Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy Neufeldt battled since childhood.

Neufeldt, known affectionately as “Mikey,” worked in online programs and operations at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, a company he came to know and love through its longtime role as a loyal MDA national sponsor. Due to the progression of his disease, Neufeldt used a motorized wheelchair for mobility and non-invasive ventilation to assist with breathing.

“The entire MDA family is stunned and heartbroken at the loss of Mike Neufeldt,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks.  “We extend our love and sympathy to his wonderful family, our dear friends Carol and Ray, Mike’s parents, and his sister Sara, as well as to his coworkers at Harley-Davidson, our long-time national partner and friend.  MDA will never forget the irrepressible sense of joy that ‘Mikey’ brought to everything he did, including his extraordinary record of service to MDA as our former National Goodwill Ambassador in 1987 and 1988, past telethon host, and MDA volunteer.  It’s a very sad day for MDA, yet a powerful reminder of the urgency we feel in our mission that Mike and his family so faithfully supported to find treatments and cures.”

Since early childhood and up until his death, Neufeldt was an outstanding supporter and leader in MDA’s mission. In 1987, at the age of 9, he began a two-year term serving as MDA’s National Goodwill Ambassador, a period he later described as “the two best years of my life.”

During that time, Neufeldt appeared on the MDA telethon’s national broadcast with Jerry Lewis, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship; was featured in a commercial with NBA legend Michael Jordan; and, along with Lewis, appeared on the cover of Parade magazine and visited President Ronald Reagan in the White House.

After completing his term, Neufeldt continued to maintain a vibrant relationship with MDA, serving as an emcee on the Milwaukee broadcast of the telethon and taking on an advisory/spokesperson role as a member of MDA’s National Task Force on Public Awareness. Neufeldt was awarded MDA’s 2008 Robert Ross MDA National Personal Achievement Award, which was designed to recognize those with neuromuscular diseases who have demonstrated extraordinary abilities and accomplishments.

In addition to Harley-Davidson, Neufeldt developed strong bonds of friendship with other MDA national sponsors, including the International Association of Fire Fighters, CITGO Petroleum Corp., Lowe’s Home Improvement, National Association of Letter Carriers and many others.

Neufeldt, who received help from MDA clinic and attended MDA summer camp as a child, once said:  “MDA means that you have a friend with you, every step of the way throughout all of your trials and tribulations, an organization to support you and your needs.”

Neufeldt was a graduate of Marquette University, where he majored in broadcast and electronic communications with a minor in marketing. He attended Marquette as a Burke Scholar, receiving full tuition, room and board, and expenses for four years in recognition of his academic achievements and community service. Neufeldt was a coordinator with the Marquette University Community Action Program, and he worked at MU-TV, the campus television station. He was a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national journalism honor society, and Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society.

A huge sports fan, Neufeldt co-authored a book on Marquette University basketball titled Tales from the Marquette Hardwood,chronicling the history of Marquette basketball starting with Al McGuire’s 1977 national championship. In the spring of 2006, Marquette awarded Neufeldt the James T. Tiedge Memorial Award, which recognizes former students of broadcast and electronic communication for professional excellence consistent with values of ethical behavior and responsibility.

In 1997, Eisenhower High School honored Neufeldt by naming its new baseball field Mike Neufeldt Field.

To express words of condolence to the Neufeldt family, please send care of the MDA local office at 330 S. Executive Drive, #100-A; Brookfield, WI  53005.

 

Roxan Olivas MDA Vice President — Public Relations & Community Programs (520) 529-5317 rolivas@mdausa.org