“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
The American Cancer Society gets it: cancer is personal. Through Relay for Life – The Society’s signature, annual fundraising campaign that goes to support cancer research; patient care services; and education and prevention initiatives – participants get the chance to connect over their individual experiences as caretakers, survivors, friends and loved ones of those who suffered from or are living with cancer.
So far this season, 30 teams comprising 329 UTC employee volunteers and their friends and family members have raised $178,000 across the U.S.! Drawing from their own experiences, team captains (UTC employees) galvanize support through personal and professional outlets, taking advantage of employee resource groups and leadership programs.
In Connecticut, UTC Corporate’s Finance Leadership Program associate and Team FLP Captain Amy McCarthy along with co-captains Alex Bailey and Rachel Wendel led their team of more than 60 members in raising $32,000 by the time Relay for Life of Farmington Valley took place in late May – which translates into roughly $50,000 when factoring in UTC’s 1:1 Matching Gift Program.
“As finance professionals, the team is elated that it has already exceeded its original goal of $25,000,” Amy shared. “However, we realized the true impact that our fundraising will have on the overall fight against cancer. Relay for Life of Farmington Valley was a beautiful and emotional celebration of life as well as a remembrance of those we’ve lost to cancer.” Amy draws upon the lessons she learned when witnessing multiple family members fight Leukemia and lymphoma – and she’s not alone.
Lorraine Marcotte of Pratt & Whitney North Berwick, Maine was affected by the loss of her mother to lymphoma and her father-in-law to bladder cancer. Lorraine’s mother’s contemporaries continue to participate in the event to honor her memory, illustrating the connection that Relay’s format creates – and it doesn’t stop at friends and family. Lorraine’s mother was a Pratt & Whitney North Berwick employee, as well, and so is her husband. The North Berwick Relay team is fantastic example of how UTC empowers our employees to raise money and awareness for causes that mean the most to them.
By hosting more than 4 million events in 26 countries every year, Relay for Life harnesses the power of grassroots volunteerism. The events lasts from six to 24 hours and team members take turns walking a preset path to signify that cancer never sleeps. Team captains recruit participants and donors while working towards a fundraising goal.
Each Relay offers its own experience and directly reflects the hosting community. Teams set up campsites and collect donations, sell concessions and facilitate games. Through The Society’s “Raise Your Way” approach, teams can turn any activity into a customized fundraiser, maximizing engagement and the amount raised. In addition, all Relays include a Survivor Lap, a Caregiver Lap, and a Luminaria display to represent light in the face of darkness.
Peter Kamitian, on the other hand, was inspired to volunteer by his colleagues on the Kidde Fenwal team at the Relay for Life of Natick, Framingham, Sherborn, Ashland and Holliston in Massachusetts. “I never dreamed that I would be captain of an 18-member team that would raise $42,000 in a season – and more than $200,000 in the last seven years! Every day, I think about the impact that our team has made on improving the lives of those fighting cancer,” Peter said. “The outstanding support of our roughly 300 employees keeps us going; we need to find a way to win this battle.”
United Technologies Aerospace Systems’ (UTAS) Todd Davis and his team members wrote more than 60 handwritten letters to family and friends asking them to participate in and donate to Relay for Life of Clark County Indiana. Plus, prior team member and UTAS employee Matt Sharp – who is a cancer survivor – had such a large group at the 2017 Relay for Life, that Todd encouraged Matt to start his own team. Todd, Mark and their teams raised a combined $20,000 in 2018. As Todd put it, “Not bad for a site with only 54 employees!”
Both teams honored more than 100 friends and loved ones affected by the disease at the Relay for Life of Clark County Indiana. “I hope my children and grandchildren can see a day when there is a cure,” said Todd. “It’s also a good way for our company to be involved in our community – as a team and event sponsor. All those involved in the local Relay for Life know about UTAS because of our involvement; not to mention, it’s an opportunity to meet likeminded people along the way.”
UTC teams that participated in Relay for Life of Charlotte (North Carolina) and of Natick, Framingham, Sherborn, Ashland and Holliston took advantage of the “Raise Your Way” method. Team Kidde Fenwal hosted a car show which generated an increased number of participants and spectators.
Likewise, Team Women in Digital of UTAS Charlotte capitalized on the timing of their Relay by selling Mother’s Day flowers. Team Captain Whitney Crowe shared that she and her team had a blast at the 2018 Relay. On top of the flower sale, they hosted cook-outs, balloon releases and luminaire decorating. Team members also guided children in making their own superhero masks, no doubt in homage to the real superheroes: victims, survivors and caretakers of cancer patients.
Relay for Life’s fundraising season runs through August 31, 2018 regardless of when each Relay event takes place. To discover more about Relay for Life, visit their website . Check out UTC’s National Corporate Team webpage to find a team or event in your community or how to start your own team. Together we make a bigger impact than we ever would on our own.