From Racine ice cream truck driver to lawyer

CALEDONIA — Fifteen years after he first met Kam Buhler, Petr Hudec couldn’t resist the chance to come to Racine for the weekend during a trip to the United States. In 2002, Hudec, now 35, was a struggling law student at Northwestern University driving an ice cream truck around the Racine area as a summer job. Now, because of a chance meeting with Buhler during that summer, Hudec is a successful lawyer in Prague, Czech Republic, with the New York-based international law firm White and Case.

“I made partner at White and Case in Prague one and a half years ago,” Hudec said. “Kam helped me with that. She basically sponsored me. She guaranteed my visa.”

Buhler, who is married to Butter Buds executive Bill Buhler, helped Hudec financially while he completed his Northwestern degree. She grew up in an impoverished, single-parent home in China and had to go to work at age 13, so she could relate to Hudec’s struggles. “I grew up very poor and didn’t have a chance at higher education,” Buhler said. “My husband is a businessman and that gave me an opportunity to give a hand to other people.”

Hudec, who passed the New York bar exam in 2009 and the Czech bar exam soon after, isn’t Buhler’s only success story. She’s a strong supporter of the U.S. State Department’s FLEX program, which gives students from Europe and Eurasia a chance to pursue American education.

On a mission

Buhler has a personal office in her Caledonia home dedicated to all of the kids she has helped since she first donated to Hudec’s cause 15 years ago.

“We’ve been sponsoring many kinds,” Buhler said. “After all these years, we’re still giving out scholarships.”

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Buhler recently helped three Ukranian students whom she sponsored open a law firm in Odessa, Ukraine’s fourth most populous city. She has also helped students from Moldova and Colombia in the past. She’s currently sponsoring Racine native Raunel Albiter, a junior at Milwaukee School of Engineering who graduated from Shoreland Lutheran High School in Somers in 2015.

But it all began with Hudec during one summer day in 2002.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without Kam,” Hudec said.

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