It’s uplifting when I experience positive, tangible results of my work.
My creative partner, Janice Beetle and I have been working to support Kevin Vann’s personal fundraiser that benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee for about four years now. Kevin’s best friend, George Webb, died unexpectedly of cancer 14 years ago at the age of 52. To honor and remember George, Kevin established a basketball tournament for boys and girls in grades three that takes place at the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee in western Mass.
Kevin wanted the event to provide funding to an organization that he and George have cared about for many years. George played pick up ball regularly at the Club, and Kevin has been a boys’ basketball coach for years, so the tournament and fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club was a natural.
I have been supporting the fundraising effort—managing the ask process, the donations, the communications, overseeing the program development and the like. Janice has written press releases to lend public attention to the event.
In the past few years, we’ve gotten a little pick up on our releases in the weekly Chicopee Register, but not much more. This year, we switched up the positioning of the press release, not emphasizing the tournament as much as what the funds Kevin raises—over$15,000 each year and over $150,000 since the tournament’s inception 14 years ago—provide to the Club and its programs.
The Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee is there for some 427 kids (members) who walk through their doors each day after school, providing homework help and all sorts of fun activities, sports, healthy physical challenges, and community volunteer opportunities. These are kids who would otherwise go home to an empty house, who have only one parent, who come from low-income families, who tend toward unhealthy habits.
This year, the press release was picked up in the Springfield Republican’s Feb. 28 Plus edition as a featured, front cover article. Yes, we liked the publicity, but when my phone rang this morning, Tom Finn of Chicopee was on the other end.
Tom’s lived in Chicopee for many years, read the article in the paper, had never known of the tournament, was at an event at the Boys & Girls Club over the weekend, and met some of the staff there. He was calling me because he wanted to make a donation to the George Webb Memorial Basketball Tournament to help out the Club.
The article made him realize just how important that tournament is in supporting the kids of the Club. He told me he plans to go to some of the games that tip off this Friday, March 9. And he’ll be bringing along a friend or two with him.
We are thrilled that we reached Tom and inspired him to give and to get involved, making him see the greatness of this event, which Kevin Vann started himself 14 years ago to support the kids of Chicopee.
High five to Tom and to Kevin.
George Webb is smiling.