Nearly 1,400 people from 26 states and five countries gathered in Madison, Wisconsin, last week for the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Business Conference. With “Innovation” as the theme, dairy producers and allied industry shared ideas through educational sessions and the Hall of Ideas trade show. All great ideas and innovations come with a little inspiration. To provide that at the 2012 event was Donald Driver of the Green Bay Packers football team.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

Known for being one of the most inspiring players in the NFL, Driver grew up homeless and worked his way to the NFL. Throughout his career, he has been very active off the field, making more than 300 charitable appearances since his rookie season in 1999.

Ten years ago, he and his wife created the “Donald Driver Foundation,” which offers assistance to ill children with unmanageable hospital bills, provides housing for the homeless and donates to a variety of local charities.

This past September, he broke the Packers all-time receiving yardage record, surpassing James Lofton. On Monday, March 19, he’ll show the world another talent as he competes in season 14 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars .

While in Madison, Driver compared two of Wisconsin’s famous brands – dairy and the Green Bay Packers. “Both have been the strength and icons of Wisconsin for many years,” Driver said, noting their commonalities of tradition, leadership and teamwork.


“If you are to be a leader you must always motivate the people around you to be the best that they can be,” Driver said. He shared how he was called upon to lead his team to win the 2011 Superbowl after suffering an ankle injury just before half-time.

Just as every single person in the locker room must work together, so must every person in the dairy industry. “It takes teamwork to win,” Driver said. “It is going to take teamwork for you to be successful as well.”


That evening Driver teamed up with the dairy industry to raise funds for the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation .

With Driver working the crowd, a live auction, featuring Packer paraphernalia, handmade “Innovation” themed quilt and a Labrador/Retriever puppy, took in $10,325. The highest selling item was a replica helmet autographed by Driver, which sold for $2,350. PD

TOP: Green Bay Packer Donald Driver inspires attendees of the PDPW Business Conference.
BOTTOM: High bidder, Dean Birschbach (right) of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, poses with Driver and his new autographed replica helmet.

Karen Lee