Team Fox member Nicole Jarvis has created quite a name for herself in her hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. A full-time practicing physician and mother of 6-year old twin boys, Nicole was diagnosed with Young Onset PD in 2011 and has since taken an active role in engaging her community to help raise awareness and funds in support of MJFF ever since. Last winter, she hosted her first Team Fox event—the Nicole Jarvis MD Winter Gala for Parkinson’s Disease Research—and raised an astounding $115,000 through local support. Building off of her 2012 success, Nicole and her group followed up with an equally impressive event this past December and raised another $160,000 for Team Fox!
We recently took a minute to catch up with Nicole to hear how everything went this year:
Team Fox (TF): Congratulations on another amazing event! Tell us how everything went!
Nicole Jarvis (NJ): We had approximately 500 people in attendance at our Winter Gala, which was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Norman, OK. We had a cocktail hour featuring a silent auction and Diamond Champagne Bar, a seated dinner with guest speakers Debi Brooks (Co-founder of The Michael J. Fox Foundation) and Sherri Coal (Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Oklahoma), and then concluded with a fabulous Live Auction.
The event raised over $185,000 of which $161,342.15 was donated to the MJFF to help fund the cutting edge research that is vital to developing better treatments and ultimately finding the cure for Parkinson’s! We also donated a portion of the amount we raised to the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma to help provide funding for services for Parkinson’s patients and their families here in Oklahoma!
TF: What was the best part of your event? What went particularly well?
NJ: The best part of the event for me was seeing all of the people that have supported me and donated to this event come together for such an amazing evening! The city of Norman, Oklahoma is such an incredible place to live and work, and I am privileged to have such a wonderful, supportive community to help me in my fundraising efforts.
Overall, everything went exceptionally well! And the Live Auction, with our legendary auctioneer Gene McKown, was a total blast – we raised over $60,000 just from the Live Auction alone, which is incredible to me!
TF: What was your event planning structure? How has this worked for you thus far?
NJ: After my first Gala in December 2012, I created my own foundation – The Nicole Jarvis MD Parkinson’s Research Foundation. I did this to set up an infrastructure that would make it easier to fundraise locally with the intent still to donate the majority of what I raised to MJFF, as well as a small portion to the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma. I have a Board of 12 members that helped me network throughout all of 2013, soliciting sponsorships and donations, as well as helping to shape the evening for our 2013 Winter Gala!
TF: What has been the most rewarding part of being a part of Team Fox over the years?
By far the most rewarding part of being a part of Team Fox over the past 18 months is the amazing group of people that I have met, either in person or online, from all across the country. I have connected with other Team Fox members, and their enthusiasm is contagious and inspirational! Many of them are other YOPD patients like myself, and that has given me an instant support group to lean on, relate to, and hopefully give back as we all go through this PD journey together. Fundraising with Team Fox has helped me cope with and live with this disease because it gives me an outlet for positive energy rather than focusing on the negatives. I can’t change the fact that I have Parkinson’s, but I can help to change what being a patient with Parkinson’s will look like in years to come.
TF: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a new Team Fox member?
NJ: Don’t be afraid to go for it! When I first told my mom about my idea to do a fundraiser for Team Fox, she was a little hesitant that I would get in over my head with the time commitment. My first goal was to raise $10,000….and that first year we raised over $115,000 and now this year $185,000! Every dollar you raise is a dollar we didn’t have before in the fight for a cure…so just go for it!
When planning an event, don’t be afraid to ask people in your community to donate their services in lieu of a monetary donation. Yes, we need to raise money to find the cure. But, I had almost all of the cost of my event donated by businesses in my community – the flowers, the photography, the auction items, the wine/champagne/beer, and a GIANT portion of my venue including food was donated. What wasn’t donated was a small enough amount that I could pay for most of that myself. So that left almost all of what I raised available for donating rather than paying expenses for the event itself. Donors really LOVE to hear that they are making a true contribution to the cause rather than paying for administrative or overhead costs.
TF: Anything else you’d like to share?
My fellow co-founder, Emily Holland, made a secret video going around town to the hospital, other doctors’ offices and donors’ offices to take pictures of people wearing “I Love Dr. Jarvis T-shirts”. The photos were then mixed in with video interviews with several of my dear friends, family and fellow board members talking about my fight with Parkinson’s disease….seriously Kleenex worthy moments in there!
Thanks for sharing, Nicole! Congrats on another fantastic year of fundraising in support of Team Fox. We can't wait to see what 2014 holds in store. Click below to view more great images from the Second Annual Winter Gala.