The Joe and Mary Jo Graetz family of Hudson is the 2019 State of Wisconsin Knights of Columbus Family of the Year. The family was presented the award at the 118th annual Wisconsin State Council Knights of Columbus convention in Appleton.

The Graetz's were chosen as the Family of the Year for the St. Croix Council 1762 in Hudson; their nomination was sent to the state for consideration as the Superior Diocese Family of the Year. They were chosen and were honored guests at the State Deputy banquet. They were in contention with four other families for the title. The Graetz family will now be submitted to the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus for contention in the International Family of the Year Award.

Joe and Mary Jo have three children: Shawn (Lee Anne), Angela (Nick) and Jennifer (Dominic), and five grandchildren.

Joe and Mary Jo are involved in many activities at St. Patrick Church, the community, the Knights of Columbus and most importantly, their family volunteers countless hours to benefit others. St. Patrick's Church has been the Graetz's parish home since they married 35 years ago. They quickly grew to love the parish and its people. Their Catholic faith is important

to them. They have raised all three of their children in the parish and the family continues to value their Catholic foundation. St. Patrick's is their "family home" church. It supported them through many trials, so they enjoy giving back.

During Joe's 11 years as a Knight he has volunteered his time to help others. He enjoys working the KC concession brat wagon, the Tootsie Roll campaign to help the intellectually disabled, Lenten fish fries, and pancake brunches.

Mary Jo has been an extraordinary minister, taught RFP, is a member of CCW and served as a

confirmation teacher. She organized American Red Cross blood drives. Mary Jo was instrumental in starting Boy Scout Troop 148 chartered by Council 1762. She was a Boy Scout committee member and Girl Scout Leader for two troops for over 20 years.

The most impressive trait of the State Family of the Year is that they are consistently there for their children, grandchildren and community.

When their granddaughter Samantha was born premature at 23 weeks, she only weighed 1 pound, 1 oz. Samantha was in the hospital for 142 days, first on life support and then to grow to a size where she could safely go home. The mother took time off from her job to take shifts at the hospital during these 142 days and continued to care for Samantha as she grew and developed at home.

Due to Samantha's early birth, she has Cerebral Palsy and has gone through multiple surgeries. This family continues to support their children with hours of required therapy to help Samantha

have a normal life. When their granddaughter Elenore was born prematurely at 2.5 pounds, the family again helped their children provide love and support to Elenore to help her overcome the many obstacles in her development to a normal life.

This family formed a team called "Samantha's Squad" that for the past five years has helped raise money for Children's Hospital fundraisers. For the past eight years, the family has also sponsored a fundraising bowling team for "Bridge," an organization that helps youths and young adults with intellectual disabilities learn how to live on their own.

When another family in their parish needed help with their premature baby, the mother helped

coordinate the donation of special premature baby formula for the family. For the past 28 years, the mother of this family has worked as a teacher to help those with special learning disabilities and many summers helping those with severe physical disabilities.

The Graetz family was the overwhelming choice to be the State family of the Year. They have

demonstrated a level of special care, love and compassion that is extraordinary to help those who have special needs, not only in their own family, but to those in their church and community. They were selected because they do it so willingly and tirelessly for the benefit of others.