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February 1998 marked the inaugural Circle of Friends Winter Week trip. Jerry, Melissa, several nurses and chaperones joined the children selected for the trip on a five-day winter escape starting in Green Bay to experience the Green Bay Packer history and then on to Jerry’s hometown Wausau, Wisconsin. Each February since 1998, Jerry and Melissa invite a new group of children to accompany them on this five-day journey. Several NFL players, Green Bay Packer Bill Schroeder, Seattle Seahawks Grant Winstrom and Austin King and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Pete Pierson, to name a few, are sponsors that pay for the children from their state to join in the activities each year.
During the trip the children create friendships with other children who share the same struggles with illness. It is a wonderful opportunity for them to form genuine relationships that we hope will last a lifetime. Most importantly, the trip allows the children to take a break from their illness and enjoy several outdoor activities such as downhill skiing & tubing, snowmobile rides, arts and craft sessions, sleigh rides, campfire & hotdog roasts and disco bowling! We provide every aspect of winter wear clothing that the children may need for the trip along with travel expenses, lodging, activities and meals.


The Circle of Friends Reunion was born from the experiences of emotional goodbyes during the conclusion of each Winter Week trip. As the children boarded different flights home they were certain they would never see one another again. Jerry and Melissa wanted to ensure that this was not the case. They decided to change sad goodbyes into warm greetings by reuniting the children every two years on a reunion trip. This allows the children to renew old bonds while creating new friendships. The trip has been held in St. Petersburg, Florida, Seattle Washington and St. Louis, Missouri. A mailing list entitled Inside the Circle is distributed to every camper to ensure that they do not lose contact with one another after the trip has ended. NFL Alumni Jerry Wunsch, Jared Tomich & Bill Schroeder; along with NFL offensive lineman Austin King & Saints Defensive Lineman Brian Young will treat a group of pediatric cancer patients to a five-day winter trip in Jerry’s hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin. Jerry has been working with pediatric cancer patients since he began his NFL career in 1997 and has hosted eleven winter trips and four summer reunions. In the past few years Brian, Bill, Jared and Austin joined the Circle of Friends. Together they have hosted children from their hometowns and playing cities nation-wide on many Winter Weeks as well as Summer Reunions.




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