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Moments in Time: Lance Sathoff
MONROE - Dr. Lance Sathoff is a man with a plan - and he isn't stopping for any breaks. He stays busy as a well-respected and award-winning orthopedic surgeon for Monroe Clinic. The Monroe resident also has several items that he's checked off of his bucket list - and he still has many more to do.

Sathoff was born in Charles City, Iowa, where he attended kindergarten before his family moved to Monroe. His father, Mo, had landed the job as the Monroe High School principal in 1974, and Sathoff attended elementary school at Northside.

Sathoff recalls his school years as fun. He was an involved student. He was into sports, loved basketball and also was heavily involved in Boy Scouting, eventually earning his Eagle Scout badge. The family was very involved in their church, Grace Lutheran, where he still attends today.

Sathoff recalls enjoying family trips together during the summers - his father took them to almost every Major League Baseball diamond. They also would take time to head north; Sathoff said spending time in northern Wisconsin with his family is where his love for fishing, hunting and the outdoors was honed.

Sathoff's father was the one who most likely kept Sathoff on the straight and narrow path to success. It wasn't easy being the principal's kid, he said, but he was naturally a focused student anyway.

Becoming a doctor was in the long-range plan for Sathoff. Dr. Jim Stormont came to speak to his daughter's fifth-grade classroom about being a doctor, and what he said resonated with Sathoff, who was also in the class.

"My parents always thought being a doctor was a great goal," he said. "And I always wanted to strive to be the best that I could be."

He was also intrigued by the television show "Quincy," a medical mystery drama that aired in the late 1970s. Later, he decided to go into orthopedics so he could work with athletes.

"I love orthopedics," he said. "If I had to choose again - I'd pick it again."

The 1986 Monroe High School graduate was soon accepted to a Target MD program where he would attend University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for three years and was then accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He finished his five-year residency in Milwaukee in July of 1998. He moved back to Monroe by August.

"School came easy for me, and I was willing to study and work hard," he said of sailing through school. "That really helped."

After spending so much time in Milwaukee, which was bigger than what he was used to, Sathoff was ready to come home to Monroe. He joined Dr. Dan Stormont, landing a job at his sports medicine clinic.

The 30-year-old orthopedic surgeon moved into his parent's basement. He called Daphne, a girl he had dated for a while in high school before the relationship fizzled out. Eventually, the sixth-grade teacher gave him a second chance.

Although he now laughs at the thought of living in his parents' basement, he said after losing his father in 2004, he wouldn't trade that time for anything.

"I had to cook once a week, I had no rent, I paid my debts and I met my wife-to-be," he said with a smile. "My dad would iron my shirts for $1 each."

By Jan. 1, 2000, Sathoff joined Monroe Clinic. Sathoff and his wife were also married that year.

Sathoff spends his days seeing patients and performing surgeries, like many doctors, but he's also doing not-so-typical things.

For the past two years, Sathoff and his wife have traveled to Nicaragua to perform surgeries for people who couldn't otherwise afford them. This February, he performed 15 joint replacements, along with eight knee and seven hip surgeries.

The experience came to fruition exactly five years to the day from when he added it to his bucket list - with a five-year goal tacked on the end.

In Nicaragua, it's the poor conditions, little access to pain medications and grateful people that make the trip worthwhile. Sathoff worked with reps who donated the joints. This year, he took his oldest son, and he and Daphne did mission work there as well.

He said he made the bucket list for several reasons. Losing his father early and having a few of his own health issues, Sathoff said he's a planner - and wants to be sure he's always working toward things he loves. In May of 2011, he underwent open heart surgery and stopped drinking alcohol. While he was off for six weeks recovering, he took his longtime interest in collecting bar tokens from local establishments and began researching a book on the taverns in Monroe.

"I really like old things, and I like Monroe," Sathoff said, noting that his research has taken a backseat lately, but he hopes to continue it one day. He has a collector's mind, he said, and has several collections of different memorabilia.

Other items on that bucket list have also been crossed off - including racing in a demo derby in the summer of 2010, garnering him a big headline in The Monroe Times.

"Some of my friends joke that the (demo derby) was what got me the most fame in the newspaper compared to anything else I've done," he said with a laugh. He earned first place, won a trophy and $100 cash.

He also fulfilled a dream by purchasing a 1951 Ford pickup truck, and he golfed St. Andrews in Scotland. Other dreams on that list include attending a Super Bowl (he's waiting for the Packers) and hopes to take a family trip on a houseboat to the Boundary Waters one day.

There are many others as well.

"If I set a goal, I want to accomplish it," he said. "Luckily I've been blessed to the point that I can make most of them happen."

After becoming an Eagle Scout himself, Sathoff wanted his children to be involved as well, and they, too, have a love for the outdoors. He enjoys spending time with his children, ages 14, 12 and 10. They also take an extended family trip each year with Lance's mother, who takes them to a beach house that everyone enjoys.

The family has a lake home in Oshkosh, and Sathoff enjoys being there with friends and going with his family in the summertime. He golfs on Thursdays and enjoys bow hunting on his property. He also enjoys working out at the Y during the week and coaches his son's sixth-grade basketball team. He also plays piano; he relaxes by playing mostly for himself, but recently he has played at church a couple of times and at Monroe Clinic. Sathoff serves on the Grace Lutheran Church Council and has served as president and treasurer; he spent six years on the YMCA board; he was on the Optimist Board for two years; and he was the Cub Scout leader for Pack 114 for seven years and spent the last three years as the Cub Master.

Sathoff serves as the medical director of the Center of Excellence at Monroe Clinic. He is proud that the orthopedic department wins the competition each year for raising the most money for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. He also earned the Health Transformation Award in 2015, making him one of five in Southwest Wisconsin to be part of the special alliance.

Planning is what Sathoff does best - and following through is simply what comes naturally. He said the biggest influences who have helped him reach his dreams have been Father Campion and his parents.

"They all made me the person I am," he said. "I'm lucky. (Being a planner) is just the way I was made. It's one of those God-given talents, and I've stayed focused on life."