Family and corporate GREAT STRIDES teams worked harder than ever this year and were rewarded with enormous success. Across the country, the term “extended family” took on new meaning, as existing family teams worked to form new ones in other cities and states. Company CEOs recruited employees, clients and even their competitors to the CF cause, and this year’s team leaders made the most of online fund-raising tools, breathing new life into old events with creative twists. Thanks to the participation of countless volunteers, 2008 was a banner year for GREAT STRIDES. Following are highlights from some of the top teams throughout the country.
This year, 97 folks turned out in the Big Apple to walk for Team Stanley's City Slickers, named for five-year-old Stanley, who has CF.
Team Stanley’s City Slickers | $85,000 | Greater New York Chapter
Five-year-old Stanley Zolek was a VIP at NYC GREAT STRIDES before he was even a year old. Today, thanks to Team Stanley’s City Slickers’ intensive awareness campaign, the little boy’s face is a familiar sight all over the Big Apple. Team leaders Dawn and Stan Zolek believe in reaching out to literally everyone they know to drum up awareness and support for Team Stanley’s City Slickers, which for the past five years has included the Zoleks’ high school and college friends, neighborhood friends, pre-schoolmates, coworkers and others. This year alone, 97 team members turned out in Battery Park City for the yearly event. “GREAT STRIDES is important because ‘today’ Stanley is 5. We want to make sure that ‘tomorrow’ he will be 65 and then some,” said Dawn. “It is our vow to make sure this happens for him and every other person with CF.”
Team Hopefulones is bi-coastal, with family teams in both Santa Monica, Calif. and Ashville, N.C. Here, team leader Maureen Clair and cousin Caitlin MacLean team up to walk for Team Hopefulones West.
Team Hopefulones | $46,000 | Multiple Chapters
“When someone you love is in need, you give, you help, you support in any way possible,” said Maureen Clair, team leader for Team Hopefulones West in Santa Monica, Calif. The team came together in 2001, when Clair’s cousin Colin—then age 3—was diagnosed with CF. “My Aunt Claire sat with me and my mother at our home in California, crying and explaining the diagnosis. I was only 17, but I knew right then I had to help,” said Clair. Then Clair’s extended family began an East Coast team in Ashville, N.C. as well, and seven years later, both teams’ momentum is still going strong. Clair says an intensive letter-writing campaign was their most effective tool. “People want to walk, but they want to walk in their own backyards,” said Maureen. “So branching out to other locations—and even other states—makes a lot of sense.”
Team FoldRx | $45,000 | Massachusetts/Rhode Island Chapter
As their first year’s participation in GREAT STRIDES shows, FoldRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk! In the lab, the company, with support from the Foundation, is working on correcting the protein-folding defect associated with CF. And on the sidewalks of Boston, 33 team members turned out this year to raise money for GREAT STRIDES. According to team leaders Deborah Morgan and Marko Pregel, “We tried to get as many participants as possible from our company.” This included Richard Labaudinere, Ph.D., president and CEO of FoldRx, who laced up his tennis shoes along with the company’s executives, scientists, clinicians and administrators. FoldRx, which began
Team FoldRx is hard at work in its quest for a cure for cystic fibrosis, both in the lab and on the sidewalks of Boston. In its first year, the team raised $45,000.
its participation by making a $10,000 corporate commitment to GREAT STRIDES, also matched the team’s fund-raising goal of $15,000. Altogether, the team raised $45,000. FoldRx launched the event with a free kick-off lunch at which Pregel, head of the company’s CF project, spoke about the disease, and Patrick Marshall, parent of a child with CF, talked about the everyday experiences of life with CF. Team FoldRx also made the most of online fund-raising tools. “We’re a tech savvy group and found it easy to create personal pages and donate online,” said Morgan. “It was a fabulous experience,” she added. “We’ve already created high expectations for next year’s walk.”
Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T) | $82,000 | Carolinas Chapter – Charlotte
When a corporation has 63 branches, how does it keep employees motivated, interested and focused for GREAT STRIDES? According to team leader Matt Anderson, branch manager in the Gastonia suburb of Charlotte, you put the walk at the top of the agenda at the corporation’s monthly regional meetings. Anderson became interested in GREAT STRIDES because his 34-year-old cousin has CF, but he was still somewhat surprised to find how many other branch managers have personal connections to the disease. In addition to the open forum of the regional meetings, he attributes the team’s success to weekly conference calls during which different team captains shared progress reports and “fed off of” each other’s enthusiasm and creativity. “Having team captains was extremely important,” said Anderson. “That established accountability for each team.” He adds that each branch held a number of different events, and “if you can think of something crazy and creative, we probably did it.” He isn’t kidding. Fund-raising events included a womanless beauty pageant, manager lock-ups requiring bail posted for release, and candy, yard and hot dog sales. When the $82,000 in funds raised was announced at the regional meeting after the walk, employees were thrilled. “Everyone was overcome,” said Anderson. “We never dreamed we could accomplish that much.”
In its second year participating in GREAT STRIDES, Team Duke Energy combined creative fund-raising strengths with robust corporate sponsorship and raised more than $36,000.
Team Sean’s Pals | $120,000 | Greater New Jersey Chapter
Team Sean’s Pals is a little like the Energizer bunny, says team leader Jodi Squires. “We just keep on going and going and going.” In its sixth year, the team was represented by 60 walkers, all dedicated to supporting 11-year-old Sean “and all kids with CF.” Squires attributes the team’s success to their intensive online letter-writing campaign and to being very persistent with updates and reminders of team progress. “Our campaign was especially significant this year because we knew Sean was going to be hospitalized for the first time, shortly after the walk,” said Squires. “It made our goal that much more important.” In addition to the walk, Team Sean’s Pals held a weeklong Jar Wars campaign at Sean’s elementary school, and family friend Dawn Fitschen sold silver wishbone charm necklaces on behalf of the team. Squires explained that the team’s most memorable moment came at the walk itself, when they realized they had reached their $100,000 goal. “We won’t stop walking until a cure is found,” said Squires, “so Sean and all the others with CF can live the long and healthy lives they deserve.”
If you ask them, they will come, believes Winston Salem's Southern Community Bank President Jeff Clark, who reached out to employees from different branches to participate in GREAT STRIDES. Jeff and his nephew eight-year-old Wells, who has CF, take a rest after the walk.
GEICO | $46,000 | Georgia
Get buy-in at the top and the rest of the corporation will follow. That’s the lesson learned by Stephen Gordon, Systems Operations Officer and chair for the Middle Georgia, GEICO location, whose team raised more than $45,000 for GREAT STRIDES. Gordon, whose daughter Haley has CF, invited John Izzo, vice president of regional headquarters, to be the honorary chair for 2008. Izzo had a personal connection to CF—his daughter’s college roommate had the disease—and was enthusiastic about signing on. With his encouragement, 21 GEICO teams formed, igniting fierce, but friendly, competition. Different departmental activities included selling breakfast biscuits at the office door in the morning, bake sales, barbecues, and garage sales. “We were united in our goal to bring a cure closer,” said Gordon. “I want to see Haley grow up, play varsity softball in high school, graduate from college and enjoy her life.”
Team Sal’s Pals | $117,000 | Multiple Chapters
When Jenny and Rick Pinardo started Team Sal’s Pals in 2001, the year her newborn son was diagnosed with CF, she never dreamed the team would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their first donation, she recalls, was 20 wrinkled one dollar bills and some change that they received from inner city second grade students. The accompanying card read: “We hope this helps Sal.” After reading the message, Pinardo sat at the table and cried. “I thought to myself, ‘here are children who have nothing and they have given us everything, and I am having trouble just finding the time to organize a walk team.’” From then on, she decided that “time is something that you make for what is important, and nothing is more important than my family, my son and his quality of life.” Pinardo’s determination was contagious, and by reaching out to family and friends, she encouraged the forming of additional Sal’s Pals teams throughout Ohio, and even one in Utah! “Sal’s Pals is the talk of the crowd at family functions,” says Rick, “but some folks can’t make the trip to Toledo, so they form teams of their own. Everyone wants to sign on, and we think it’s great!”
Four-year-old Max, namesake for Team Tracks for Max, sits astride his Dad Adam's shoulders to get a bird's eye view of his fellow walkers.
Team Brock | $44,000 | Texas Gulf Coast Chapter
When it comes to GREAT STRIDES, Mike McGinnis’s professional rolodex is a goldmine. As president of the Brock Group, a leader among specialty craft providers, he is in touch with Brock clients, partners and competitors. And he’s glad to recruit them for GREAT STRIDES. McGinnis, who has no direct personal connection with CF, is president of the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter and has served on the chapter’s Board of Directors since 1995. To launch Team Brock’s fourth year in the walk, he hosted a corporate breakfast, encouraging Brock employees to join the company team and other industry professionals to form GREAT STRIDES teams of their own. Altogether, 84 Team Brock members came out for the walk, raising more than $43,000 to support CF research. “The key to Team Brock’s success was that members displayed a positive, motivated sense of purpose that influenced others,” said McGinnis. “We all have great hopes for the research the Foundation is undertaking. We’re doing our part to contribute to the quest for a cure.”
Team Tracks for Max | $49,000 | South Florida
Team leader Debbie Klauber has no doubt what the key to success was for Team Tracks for Max: “It was the overwhelming support of our family and friends from around the country,” she says. When her son, Max, was diagnosed with CF at age 3, Klauber and her husband Adam sprang into action. “Both of us are lawyers,” Klauber says, “and we went right to work recruiting volunteers and donors from our respective firms.” The vast amount of donations were made online in response to the Klaubers’ email letters, but the team also held an ice cream social, a bake sale, raffles and even a Pajama Day at Max’s school where both teachers and children paid five dollars apiece for the privilege of wearing p.j.’s to school. “Just hoping for a cure is not enough,” Klauber says. “It’s action that counts. We’re grateful so many have joined us.”
Be sure to put the weekend of May 16-17, 2009 on your calendars today. Get a jump on brainstorming ways to promote your GREAT STRIDES walks—let's make 2009 the best year ever for raising money to benefit CF research!
The CF Foundation proudly thanks each of our corporate partners who generously sponsored GREAT STRIDES 2008. Your support is helping us make GREAT STRIDES toward finding a cure. Special thanks to Outstanding Corporate Partner American Airlines® and National Corporate Partners Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Airgas Puritan Medical, Novartis and Gilead Sciences for their support.