The day he signed up for the Tour de Fox Wine Country Ride in 2015, David Sterry sent an email to a handful of friends, family and coworkers. Then Senior Vice President of Global R&D at California-based seller of berries, Driscoll’s, David reached out to his leadership team to help him reach his $500 fundraising goal. And, he emailed his team — knowing there were cyclists in the group — to say he was participating in the fundraiser for The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), in case anyone wanted to join. The cause is close to David, as he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) a few years prior.
“When I went public about having PD, it was amazing how many people had a connection to PD,” recalls David. He was also struck by the number of coworkers who came forward to share a challenge that wasn’t Parkinson’s, such as diabetes or back surgery. “When I announced I had Parkinson’s, it gave others some courage. It was a very moving experience and reminded people that we’re all human,” he says. “I expected people to see me as less, but they saw me as more. That was good for me and good for the company.”
Flash forward to the day of the Ride, a team of 12 Driscoll’s employees cycled alongside David and together, raised nearly $15,000. The following year, “It took on a life of its own,” says David. The Driscoll’s team was 25 riders strong and raised $45,000, thanks in part to a company match. “Most of us didn’t know that Driscoll’s has a matching program,” he says. A coworker who hadn’t been involved in the 2015 Ride alerted them of Driscoll’s matching program — something many companies offer — and volunteered to make sure every dollar contributed by employees was matched by the company. “That had a big impact on the money we were able to raise,” says David.
By 2018 the Driscoll’s team grew to 55 cyclists and have raised over $103,000 to date. Throughout the evolution of the event and his company’s involvement, four other Driscoll’s families touched by Parkinson’s got involved and “an incredible spirit of joy and positive energy emerged,” says David. “It was important the event was ours and not mine. You have to get other people to own part of it,” he explains. “We had someone who manned a Driscoll’s booth, another who created team jerseys, another who brought the berries we donated, and another who organized training rides. Family members came out to volunteer.”
The secret to growing such an engaged and impactful corporate team? “Make the event about fun and community. It should be a collective thing that people do together because it’s enjoyable.”
Inspired? Rally your company and coworkers to sponsor, volunteer or form a team to support MJFF’s Tour de Fox Cycling Series and Fox Trot 5K Series. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for information.