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Great Strides Success in 2009

October 9, 2009

A record number of walkers participated in Great Strides 2009, the largest cystic fibrosis fundraiser in the U.S. This year, Great Strides brought together thousands of family and corporate Great Strides teams across the country, which walked to raise critical funds for CF research and care.

Inspired by recent progress in CF research, families recruited members for their hometown teams and formed new ones from coast to coast. Companies rallied troops of employees, clients and business partners to surpass fundraising goals and set sights even higher for the future. Together, they raised $34 million to benefit the CF Foundation.

The following are highlights from some top teams across the nation.

Toshiba Business Solutions
Orange County

After nine years supporting American Airlines® Celebrity Ski, Wayne Wilkinson, general manager of Toshiba Business Solutions, wanted to get involved in a bigger way.

 Wayne Wilkinson, center, of Toshiba Business Solutions led a company-wide Great Strides effort to raise $133,000 for the CF Foundation.
Wayne Wilkinson, center, of Toshiba Business Solutions led a company-wide Great Strides effort to raise $133,000 for the CF Foundation. 

“You only need to meet one child who’s affected by CF to understand the importance of the CF Foundation’s mission,” says Wilkinson. “The sooner we raise money, the sooner we can make an impact on the lives of those with CF.”

With the help of the Orange County Chapter, he set up 15 Great Strides headquarters across the country with a goal to raise $100,000. Toshiba Business Solutions exceeded that goal to raise $133,000 for the CF Foundation in 2009. Next year, the goal is $250,000.

Wilkinson called upon his colleagues at Toshiba to take part in a company-wide Great Strides endeavor. More than 700 employees participated in in-office events such as jeans days, executive pie-in-the-face and dunk tank games. Toshiba also offered a corporate match and asked business partners to help by giving $10 dollars back for each office product leased.

“It was an intense six-month effort from start to finish, but it was easy to get our employees revved up and enthusiastic,” Wilkinson says. “Supporting the CF Foundation’s efforts is really important to us and a big part of our overall business philosophy.”

Baker Boys Battalion
Georgia Chapter

Pam Baker with sons Gavin, left, and Jake who have CF.
Pam Baker with sons Gavin, left, and Jake who have CF. 
For Pam Baker and the Baker Boys Battalion, Great Strides is an international affair that includes ten teams across the United States and Canada.

Seven years ago, Pam found out her sons Gavin and Jake (10 and 7) have CF. She and her husband, Jon, immediately went to the CF Foundation’s Web site to find out how they could help and decided Great Strides was the way to go. In its first years, the Baker Boys Battalion raised more than $30,000 for the CF Foundation. In 2009, the 10 teams raised a total of more than $50,000 across the entire country.

The keys to their success? Pam and the Battalion write hundreds of letters and e-mails to family and friends. The team also hosts popular “wrap-around” events before and after the walk, including a St. Patrick’s Day party and College Throwback night.

Her advice to Great Strides teams across the country: “Everybody wants to be a part of something important, they just don’t know how,” says Pam. “That’s when you reach out and ask them to join Team CF.”

Aidan’s Dream Team
Heart of America Chapter

Aidan Jones, 6, speaks with his parents at local schools to raise CF awareness and encourage participation in Great Strides.
Aidan Jones, 6, speaks with his parents at local schools to raise CF awareness and encourage participation in Great Strides. 

 

Just after Aidan Jones was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 2, the Jones family launched Aidan’s Dream Team in Mission, Kansas. Since 2005, Aidan’s extended family and friends across the country have joined their efforts to cure CF.

“The Heart of America Chapter offered us so much support right after Aidan was diagnosed,” says Aidan’s dad, Eric Jones. “Raising money and awareness helped my family get through that first year.”

Aidan, now 6, and his parents continue to make an impact in their community. The Joneses speak at neighborhood schools to urge people to support the Foundation’s mission. They also reach out to local restaurants to donate a portion of sales.

Aidan’s Dream Team has raised more than $100,000 for the CF Foundation, and says Eric Jones, it all boils down to one action: ask.

“You never know how generous a person is until you ask for their help,” he says. “My wife and I ask everyone we know for their support and we ask people we don’t know. The results surprise us every year.”


Team Gavin 
Charlotte

 Nicole Bartlett, pictured with husband Toby, and sons Sebastian, left, and Gavin at Great Strides 2009.  
Nicole Bartlett, pictured with husband Toby, and sons Sebastian, left, and Gavin at Great Strides 2009. 
Nicole Bartlett comes from a huge family. Her mom is one of eight children and Nicole is one of six – that means a lot of t-shirts for Great Strides Team Gavin every May.

“Great Strides is like a holiday celebration for my family. It’s just as big as Christmas and Easter,” says Nicole, whose son Gavin, 6, has CF.

In its first year, Team Gavin raised more than $10,000 through Great Strides and by 2008, nearly 100 walkers joined the team in Atlanta. The Bartletts have since moved to Charlotte, N.C., where by Great Strides 2009, they recruited about 40 people to Team Gavin.

As the chief team leader, Nicole relies heavily on e-mail to raise funds and to keep in touch with her teammates in Atlanta and Charlotte. Each year, a brand new team is born.

“I’m amazed by the potential one e-mail has to inspire people to give to our cause,” say Nicole. “People understand that money buys science and science saves lives.”

Since 2004, Team Gavin has raised more than $110,000 for the CF Foundation.

Striders for Samuel
Nebraska

Team leader Erica Bryant will do anything and everything to rally support for Striders for Samuel: “I write multiple e-mails, create several video messages, use the Great Strides Web site and call on my fellow team leaders to use every avenue for fundraising.”

 Erica Bryant holds her son Samuel at Great Strides 2009. Striders for Samuel is the largest walk team in Nebraska.
Erica Bryant holds her son Samuel at Great Strides 2009. Striders for Samuel is the largest walk team in Nebraska.

Just after Erica’s son Samuel was diagnosed, she called the Nebraska Chapter to get involved and meet other parents of children with CF. In three years, Striders for Samuel has branched into nine teams and is now the largest team at the Nebraska walk. The team has raised about $40,000 for the Foundation since 2007. “I see our teammates everywhere I go,” says Erica. “It’s really remarkable to see so many people donating their time and money to Great Strides.”

Erica and her team have expanded their efforts and success by bringing Great Strides into the workplace with corporate matches, raffles, jeans day and, most important, educating hundreds of Nebraskans about CF.

“We’ve met so many generous people through Great Strides,” says Erica. “When I look out into the sea of bright green t-shirts on walk day, I’m filled with love and energy. It’s a wonderful celebration of my son’s life.”

 

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an accredited charity of the Better Business Bureau.