Affiliate News-Spring 2016

May 26, 2016

Davin Welter rappels1

Davin’s last stand!

A leap of faith…Family Promise’s Athens (GA) Affiliate truly went over the edge this spring.  They partnered with two other local nonprofits that also focus on improving the lives of children for a fundraiser that allowed winners to walk backward off a 7-story building and rappel to the ground.

The Affiliate teamed with the Nancy Travis Childcare Project and Children First, recruiting volunteers to reach out to their peers for donations supporting their cause.  Those who reached $1,000 were eligible to become “edgers.”  Thirty-nine in all ended up rappelling down the side of the SPARC (Sports Performance and Rehabilitation Center) building, creating quite the spectacle for rubberneckers traveling along West Broad Street, one of Athens’ busiest thoroughfares.  “The first step is the most difficult,” said Athens’ Executive Director Davin Welter.  “After that, it’s like walking down a ladder…sort of.”

The event raised more than $80,000 and all three organizations plan to repeat the fundraiser next year.  Welter said, “This was a unique way for us to use peer-to-peer fundraising to engage new supporters.  It also allowed us to build connections with the other agencies involved—going over the edge together gave us a chance to spend time and get to know each other.  We’ve got our eye on the University of Georgia’s football stadium for next year’s site.”

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Matthew with his troops.

A dream come true…Like most kids, 11-year-old Matthew Womack dreamed of going to Disney World.  However, when your family has just recently escaped homelessness, thanks to the help of our Longview (TX) Affiliate, theme parks aren’t high on the list of priorities.  Until, that is, two benefactors stepped up at Longview’s annual fundraiser.

At Longview’s gala,  they presented a video of Matthew’s experience as a guest in their program.  The video was followed by a live auction in which one of the items was a trip to Disney World, excluding airfare and meals.  The winning bidders (who have chosen to remain anonymous) then announced immediately that they were donating the trip to Matthew.

Matthew lives with his grandmother, Patsy, who is disabled and cannot travel.  Fortunately, Matthew is involved with a local mentoring program, Co-Pilots, run by Longview’s Partners in Prevention agency.  Matthew’s mentor, Steve Crane, and his wife were willing to act as chaperones for the trip but needed help covering the expenses.  Athens’ director, Doris Ramaly, reached out again to the two donors. They generously agreed to pay all expenses for the three lucky travelers.

The flight was the first time Matthew had been on a plane or away from his grandmother.  The five days in Florida were,  in Matthew’s words, “Awesome!”  Toy Story Mania, Star Wars Launch Bay, Animal Kingdom…Matthew and the Cranes did it all.  Thanks to two big-hearted donors and a special mentoring relationship, it was a week that Matthew will never forget.

Nor will Steve Crane.  The adventure culminated with a fireworks show at Epcot and he shared his thoughts on Matthew’s wonderment at the spectacle, “It really showed how intense the whole experience was for him.  It was a magical moment.  For me, it was the defining moment of the whole  trip.”

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The competition was fierce!

Ironman?  Not quite…Kelly Christianson, director of our Eau Claire (WI) Affiliate didn’t want to put on another cookie-cutter, been there/done that fundraiser.  “There are all kinds of walks and golf tournaments.  We wanted something unique,” she said.

So she got together with Mark Steil, a local entrepreneur and benefactor of the Affiliate.  They decided upon a triathlon to raise funds and engage the community, but one with a twist.  Instead of ocean swimming, endurance biking and running a marathon, their competition would consist of events anyone could enter: inner tube rides, go-kart races and a pizza-eating contest.  They’d call it Float, Fly, Pie.  And Mark, as a partner in Metropolis Resort, which includes an entertainment center and water park, was the ideal organizer.  Oh, and he also owns a local pizzeria, the Fired Up Pizza Co.

Float, Fly, Pie included competitions for both families and corporate teams.  Teams of four floated down a lazy river in inner tubes at the Chaos Indoor Water Park, raced go-karts around the track at Action City Family Fun Center, and topped it off with a spirited pizza-eating contest, courtesy of Fired Up.  Thirteen families paid $160 to compete, which included participation in the events plus arcade tickets.  The corporate contest consisted of nine teams paying a $600 entrance fee each.  At the event’s conclusion, Metropolis donated a skybox for an after party, complete with food and beverages.

The event raised $15,000 but Christianson saw even greater benefits.  “Now we have a relationship with Metropolis—that’s huge.  And working with Mark connected us with all kinds of folks we would never have had access to otherwise.  Will we do it again?  Absolutely.  In fact, Metropolis told us, ‘If you don’t do this again as a fundraiser, we’re going to do it anyway!’”


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