Bielema recognized for contributions to breast cancer foundation - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Bielema recognized for contributions to breast cancer foundation


MADISON (WKOW) -- Aside from the coaching vacancy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, former football coach Bret Bielema is also leaving a hole in the community.

Bielema was a spokesperson for the local chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a non-profit with the goal of ending breast cancer. The coach chose the organization because the disease has impacted his family.

"His mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor and that's where his passion comes from. He's just been a class act in supporting us, supporting his mom," said Michelle Heitzinger, the executive director of the organization's chapter in south central Wisconsin.

Bielema helped start Football 101 for Women, a program to teach women about football in which the proceeds benefit the Komen Foundation.

Heitzinger recalled one of her fondest memories of Bielema. She said at the organization's pink ribbon dinner in April, Bielema told a story about being able to dance with his mother at his wedding, 21 years after her breast cancer diagnosis.

"That's what I will remember of Bret is the emotional side, the side of supporting his mom. The emotional journey they had gone through, having to deal with breast cancer not once, but twice. So he will always have a warm spot in my heart because of that."

Heitzinger says Bielema will be hard to replace. She says she hopes he'll still be involved with the Komen affiliate in Arkansas.

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