Pan-Mass Challenge Heroes #5: Frozen Pea Fund & Connie Reece

This is an ongoing series profiling some of the people I believe to be the real heroes of the Pan-Mass Challenge: the sponsors who donate their money to fund cancer research. Please considering joining them by donating any amount to http://pmc.org/DH0159.

By the way– thanks to the generosity of sponsors so far, we are 45% to my minimum goal of $4,200 through the end of May!

frozenpeafund

Back in December 2007, I was sitting at a social media conference (the Society for New Communications Research Symposium and a friend monitoring Twitter noted with shock that a member of the community, Susan Reynolds, had just shared her diagnosis of breast cancer. What happened over the next several days, weeks and months was simply amazing. Rather than being a community of voyeurs or simply well-wishers, certain members took action.

Susan had taken to blogging frankly about her ordeal on her “Boobs on Ice” blog. Taking a cue from her use of bags of frozen peas as pain-relieving ice packs, the Frozen Pea Fund was born as a totally grassroots, social networking effort. For some time, “Frozen Pea Fridays” were a running theme on Twitter, with people trading in their usual Twitter photo avatars for modified “peavatars,” and donating $5 at a time- about the cost of two bags of frozen peas- to the Fund. The movement got popular, recognized by the American Cancer Society, and continues to contribute to help people with cancer, with Susan as the “unwilling poster girl” for the organization.

Connie Reece, another friend I have been lucky to meet through social media, has become the most recognizable face behind the Frozen Pea Fund. she has extended the fund’s generosity to efforts like my Pan-Mass Challenge participation, contributing as my sponsor for the second year, as Connie says, “in honor of Susan Reynolds and all our online friends who are sharing their cancer stories.”

I’ll let Connie speak directly some more:

The Frozen Pea Fund wants to encourage social networking connections to get involved in raising money to fight cancer. By sponsoring our online friends, and spreading the word about their efforts, we hope to raise awareness that individual efforts can make a difference in fighting this disease.


Thank you, Connie and everyone at the Frozen Pea Fund! And thank you, everyone who has supported the Pan-Mass Challenge in any way. Here’s the link for you to sponsor my ride and fight cancer: http://pmc.org/DH0159. Please feel free to pass the link to others as well.

Pan-Mass Challenge Heroes #4: John Cass

This is an ongoing series profiling some of the people I believe to be the real heroes of the Pan-Mass Challenge: the sponsors who donate their money to fund cancer research. Please considering joining them by donating any amount to http://pmc.org/DH0159.

john-cass-2007

I consider John Cass to be part of my “social media” network of friends, but truthfully I met him just before I really dove headlong into social media, at a MITX technology awards event in 2005. Around that time he was also serving as the local chapter president of the American Marketing Association, so between that and his day-job duties i would run into him at several events, and more so once regular meetups like Social Media Club and the Social Media Breakfasts got started.

John is always good for a well-thought-out opinion on public relations, marketing and social media- many of which he pours out in his blog: http://pr.typepad.com.

Some more from John:

– Why did you sponsor me in the Pan-Mass Challenge?

Thought it was a good cause, really like you and the work you do to support your local communities, such as the Newton Blog (note: I occasionally contribute to The Garden City Blog, curated by Kristine Munroe-Mahoney and my old colleague Chuck Tanowitz) , etc.

– Name one interesting fact or story that makes you unique and interesting

At the beginning of August 2002 I drove 12,000 miles to Alaska and back on the AL-CAN and Caucasian Highway. We saw tons of cyclists making the return trip on the way up, the weather was summer on the way up, and we hit snow storms when we came back at the beginning of September (note: have a look at the map here to see how crazy this trip really was).


Thank you, John. And thank you, everyone who has supported the Pan-Mass Challenge in any way. Here’s the link for you to sponsor my ride and fight cancer: http://pmc.org/DH0159. Please feel free to pass the link to others as well.

Pan-Mass Challenge Heroes #3: Shawn Ashe

This is the third in an ongoing series profiling some of the people I believe to be the real heroes of the Pan-Mass Challenge: the sponsors who donate their money to fund cancer research. Please considering joining them by donating any amount to http://pmc.org/DH0159.

Wah-Tut-Ca Scout Reservation

Wah-Tut-Ca Scout Reservation

PMC Heroes #3: Shawn Ashe

This year, I have seen far more participation in my Pan-Mass Challenge efforts by people outside my hardcore “social media” community, from all corners of my life. This includes more people I met in my youth, when I was very active in the Boy Scouts, particularly the local Order of the Arrow lodge (Wannalancit #451!) and our camp, Wah-tut-Ca Scout Reservation. As teenage members of out local lodge, we learned the leadership skills that helped us excel in high school, college and into our professional lives, and became a tight-knit group into our forties (and older!).

Shawn Ashe is one of these Scouting friends; one I have become reacquainted with through Facebook (this seems to be coming up a lot this year). Shawn has remained in the Greater Lowell (Massachusetts) era, and to my delight is very involved in his local community to the extent of managing a blog dedicated to municipal issues, Dracut Forum (www.dracutforum.com). He has also dedicated his time to being a foster parent, “working to improve the lives of children in the care of the state.”

Also from Shawn:

I sponsored you because of our mutual history at Camp Wah-Tut-Ca. I’ve always believed that place helped create people with good values, and your effort shows that.


Thank you, Shawn. And thank you, everyone who has supported the Pan-Mass Challenge in any way. Here’s the link for you to sponsor my ride and fight cancer: http://pmc.org/DH0159. Please feel free to pass the link to others as well.

Pan-Mass Challenge Heroes 2: Ted McEnroe

This is the second in an ongoing series profiling some of the people I believe to be the real heroes of the Pan-Mass Challenge: the sponsors who donate their money to fund cancer research. Please considering joining them by donating any amount to http://pmc.org/DH0159.

ted_and_the_ring#2: Ted McEnroe

Ted McEnroe is the Director of Digital Media at New England Cable News (NESN). He also blogs for himself at Yankee 2.0 (http://yankee20.com). I met Ted at several Boston-area social media events, and to show you how thick I am, I did not know he was married to another new friend, Rachel Happe, until a few events into our acquintance. No matter.

Ted was one of the first sponsors in this year, and shortly thereafter he told me that he signed up to ride the PMC with Team NECN (and of course I reciprocated). Not coincidentally, NECN is the media sponsor of the Pan-Mass Challenge, and they also provide a large team of riders. Ted manages the team’s site, http://www.teamnecn.com, which has a lot of great content. Ted told me: “It is actually watching it all come together that inspired me to ride.”

Also from Ted:

“I sponsored you because I know you and your commitment to the PMC, and I have seen first-hand the good that the work of you and 5000 others like you (and this year, me) can do for cancer research.”

“I hadn’t really heard of the PMC until I started working at NECN 5 years ago on PMC weekend. It blows me away each and every year.”

“I’m giving to you in no one’s particular honor – I am riding in many ways for my father in law, who I never met – but there are so many stories, and so many reasons to give that picking one seems too hard. So I’m giving because I can.”

“One interesting fact about me when it comes to the PMC. I’m just like anyone else out there, whether they’re riding, volunteering or just sitting at home.
Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way – we need to keep trying until we can rewrite that sentence.”

Thank you, Ted. And thank you, everyone who has supported the Pan-Mass Challenge in any way. Here’s the link for you to sponsor my ride and fight cancer: http://pmc.org/DH0159. Please feel free to pass the link to others as well.

My Pan-Mass Challenge Heroes 1: Chip Griffin

Preparing for my first Pan-Mass Challenge last year, I liked to say that I’m “just a guy riding a bike.” I considered the people who reached into their wallets and went to the PMC site to pledge money to fight cancer– nearly 80 of them last year- to be the real heroes of my “team.” One of my regrets was that I didn’t get to publicly thank many of my sponsors, as I didn’t ask for explicit permission.

This year, I decided to bend the other way– not just thank people publicly, but profile them as full members of the team. So, I asked this year’s sponsors — almost 30 so far– if they wouldn’t mind being profiled.

So these are the “heroes” of my Pan-Mass Challenge team- classmates, childhood friends, colleagues, friends, family– and social media friends. Many of these people who cross multiple categories. I thank them all, and get to thank some of them publicly here.

First up:
cpg-headshot-2009
#1: Chip Griffin

I have known Chip for a few years, mostly in his role as CEO of media monitoring company CustomScoop and his stewardship of Media Bullseye, for which I write a monthly article. A serial entrepreneur, Chip started his latest venture, New England Web Entrepreneurs, to provide resources to the rich but neglected pool of New England entrepreneurs.

When I first decided to ride the Pan-Mass Challenge last year, Chip was one of the first people in with a very generous check to get me started. He’s back for Year Two. Most recently, he interviewed me for his podcast series; I spoke with him about my use of social media for fundraising for the Pan-Mass Challenge, including this feature here. For all those reasons, I thought it fitting to start with Chip. Here are some of the things he said about his sponsorship:

I am a longtime supporter of the Jimmy Fund and try to help out when friends are willing to put in extra effort to fundraise on behalf of organizations I support. The fact that you are willing to train and ride, something that is far from easy, is admirable and it seems the least I can do is “write a check!”

I have…always found the Jimmy Fund to be a good cause. This has been reinforced by my attending events as a donor where I have had a chance to meet patients, parents, and doctors. It is impossible to meet these people without being impressed and feeling like you need to do more.

(I asked him to tell one interesting or unique fact or story)

It seems that I got old while I wasn’t looking. I’m a member of the American University Alumni Board and attended a commencement event a couple of weeks ago as part of those responsibilities. As I was greeting the graduates, one of them took a look at my name badge, noticed by year of graduation, and said — quite seriously — “Wow, that was a long time ago.” I don’t happen to think 1994 was that long ago, until I thought about it and realized that when I graduated from college that would be like seeing someone with a name badge from the 1970s.

Well Chip, as a member of Emerson College’s Class of 1990, I don’t feel all that bad for you.

But I do thank you for your continued sponsorship of my Pan-Mass Challenge ride.

Those of you who would like to join this stellar group of generous people, please consider pledging any amount to fight cancer, by going to http://bit.ly/pmcdh.

Thank you!

Pan-Mass Challenge: 3-Year Fundraising Review & Thoughts on Doing Good, Well

For the last three years, I have raised money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston as one of 5,000 riders in the Pan-Mass Challenge. Due to the fact that many people in my city (Newton, MA) also ride the PMC, and the fact that I do a lot of online social networking for fun and for work, I have conducted the bulk of my fundraising online.

While raising money to combat a disease that has affected most of us in some way is an experience fueled by emotions, I thought I would take a more clinical look at how I used social networks for fundraising.

First, a look at the numbers. As you can see, fundraising totals have risen each year:

Meanwhile, the number of donors each year has increased as well:

As has the average donation:

Importantly, repeat donors- and the percentage of those repeating- has gone up each year.

So how has my fundraising been increasingly successful, despite a lingering recession and competition from other cause-related fundraisers?

Social Networks Have Increased Exponentially

When I first rode the PMC in 2008, I was approaching 4,000 followers on Twitter. That was not bad at the time for the young service, but that number is over 25,000 now, and the reach of my appeals has increased correspondingly.

My Facebook network is much more modest. Also, in 2008 I don;t think I had many Facebook friends who were not also on Twitter. By 2009 that had changed drastically, as high school and college classmates, as well as family members and other friends, streamed onto Facebook. Starting with that second year I felt I was reaching  different crowd.

My use of social networks to raise money in the first place was born from the fact that hundreds of people from my home city, Newton, MA, ride the PMC. I knew I couldn’t count on neighbors alone to raise the minimum amount. Plus, my work as it related to social media meant that I should experiment as much as possible to see what works.

Media Helps

Early on, I recognized that using video would help make my fundraising appeal more entertaining. So, I found ways to attach video camera to my bike and took training videos to share with my friends.

Here’s an early one, from 2008:

Personal Touches Help

One thing I made sure to do was to keep things personal- always thank people as I should, respecting privacy but doing so publicly as appropriate. In year 2 (2009), I asked permission to profile sponsors, in a series that created a bit of interest (or at least some appreciation).

Also, I found it important to send hand-written thank you notes. I cannot tell you how gratifying it is to see people remark how pleased they are to receive notes. I overcame a little shyness to include a picture of myself from the ride in each note- to bring a little bit of the event, and proof I participated- to the people who opened their checkbooks for me and the PMC. Also, I hope it inspires others to remember these traditional, offline methods of giving thanks.

Edit: Adding a photo to emphasize the point that visual media help draw attention to your most important content.

Photo by Adam Cohen

In the end, I believe that creating goodwill, while being insistent and not forgetting to ask for the donation (and not being afraid to do it frequently), has been important. That’s pretty old-fashioned, but coupled with the increased reach that social networks afford, it creates a pretty effective way to do good.

I’m Riding the Pan-Mass Challenge Again

This year, for the third year in a row, I’m riding the Pan-Mass Challenge. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, the PMC is a 2-day ride across Massachusetts that is the largest single fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston (if you would like to sponsor my ride, my fundraising page is: http://bit.ly/PMC2010). Riders raised $30 million last year alone, and $270 million since the event began in 1980. This video from the PMC organization features founder Billy Starr explaining the origin and mission:

Billy Starr – My Road to the PMC from David Hellman on Vimeo.

Last year, my second riding the PMC, was a remarkable one. Highlights? Rather than a duo, my group of friends became a sextet, training together and riding together. We called ourselves the “5:37 Club” for the time we would leave on weekend rides. It appears the group will stay intact this year, and perhaps gain another member or two:

PMC 2009 - Doug Haslam's Ride

Most of 2009's "5:37 Club"

Training was better last year, in no small part due to the group members pushing each other, along with a new bike, and I finished the ride stronger, faster and feeling better than the first year.

The ride was also marked by the many people I knew and recognized along the was- people I know through my professional and online social networks, such as Ted McEnroe and Gerry “Realtyman” Bourgeois, other Newton, Mass. neighbors, my old colleague Karen Given from NPR’s “Only a Game” and riders we encountered on some of our longer preparation rides, such as Tom the cancer survivor- and longtime PMC rider-  who entertained us with stories about his son’s cross-country cycling trek.

PMC 2009 - Doug Haslam's Ride

Gerry "Realtyman" Bourgeois (right) with me at the 2009 start.

Last but not least, were those of you who made the most difficult part of the PMC a success. Despite the recession, and the slightly lowered overall goal of the PMC fundraising effort, with your help fundraising increased 41% from 2008 to 2009, and the average donation was 22% higher. We also exceeded my goal by 18%, taking in nearly $5,000 together to fight cancer.

I was and remain grateful, and showed those of you who let me by profiling you in a series of 25 “PMC Heroes” posts (find them here: http://doughaslam.com/category/pan-mass-challenge/). I’m consdiering ideas for another interesting series of posts to mark this year’s effort, so stay tuned.

Please help me and the PMC beat cancer again this year. My goal is $4,200 but I consider that a minimum, not an endpoint. I think we can exceed expectations again. To donate and sponsor my ride, please go to: http://bit.ly/PMC2010.

Thank you.