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This article first appeared in the PB April 2008 issue of Pro Builder.

VIPs, and later the public, touring the Barrington Manor, an estate home with European flavor

Barenz Builders of Germantown, Wis., found a unique way to help adults and children with muscular dystrophy: a fund-raising event that lets people travel without leaving home. Last October, Barenz hosted "Passport to Europe: A Dream Home Tour for an MD Cure," which raised $60,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Southeastern Wisconsin.

Participants in "Passport to Europe" toured the Barrington Manor, a 10,000-square-foot home Barenz built. Among the features of the European estate, which sold prior to the event for $2.1 million (without lot), are a stone turret; alder woodwork with walnut burl inlays; three stone fireplaces; a state-of-the-art home theater; and a ballet studio.

"We chose MDA because we thought they were underserved," says Vice President Cheryl Barenz. "And the research we've done assures us that the money we raise will stay in southeastern Wisconsin, directly benefiting those [here] who have the disease."

"Passport to Europe" kicked off with a VIP reception at a local country club, where international food-tasting stations paired with imported beverages. The VIPs included

Invitations to Barenz Builders' travel-themed VIP reception for muscular dystrophy resembled a passport.
suppliers and trade contractors who worked on the Barrington Manor and the builder's past and present clients. Guests even took a limousine to the home, and the public was invited to tour it for a week after the reception.

Barenz didn't have to act alone. Area distributors, including Kohler and Pella, came on board as sponsors, and the local CBS affiliate broadcast reports about the event during the week prior to the VIP party.

About 200 people attended the VIP reception and more than 400 visited the home in the following week. And that exposure generated some good leads for future custom-home projects, says Barenz.

This is the second year Barenz Builders has organized a Passport event. In fact, it's been so well-received the company has already started planning the 2008 event.

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