I've said time and again that I felt that Q had the most passionate rock radio listeners in the world, and any DJ couldn't possibly find a better audience. And since any of my listeners know that I have a "No Bullshit" rule for my show (and life for that matter), that it's truly heartfelt when I express that. Well the proofs in the pudding...
As you probably know, this past May 19th I was honored to win the NY Leukemia and Lymphoma Societys (LLS) Man of the Year (MOTY) title for top fundraiser. Needless to say, you were a big part of this. When my campaign ended, there were a number of MOTY campaigns still in progress. Over 300 men took part the same thing I did around the nation.
LLS asked we keep our final number raised under wraps until June 30th when all the campaigns nationwide were officially wrapped up, and they announced the National Man of the Year for top fundraiser in the U.S. When I started this unbelievably rewarding 10 week oddysey back in March, it was suggested by LLS to set a goal of $20,000. With the economy in the tank and tragedys in Japan and here in the states down south, that looked like a gigantic number at the time to come up with when times were so tough and charity money rightfully going to those other places. For my full campaign story, you can refer back about 3 blogs from this one.
So with the 20K number taped up to my fridge, I tapped out my first solicitation email, and picked up the phone and started calling. I figured with having it as good as I've got it in life (and have had), signing off 10 weeks of my life was a drop in the bucket in return. Not to mention the cause and organization.
Scroll down for my total funds raised and you'll see what surrounding yourself with great human beings (and some hard work) can do. For fun, maybe take a guess at what number you think it might have been first.
Total raised: $194,761,33. And no, that's not a typo. If you told me just under 200 grand would be my final number when all was wrapped, I'd say you were off your medication.
So to you dear listener that was of assistance during this life changing experience, all I can say is I send you my deepest and most sincere thanks and appreciation. Off all the Rockstars I play, you're the biggest Rockstar of them all.
And one last thing. I was informed yesterday that I won the LLS NATIONAL Man of the Year for top fundraiser in the country! (See pic below with my cancer survivor niece Kate who I ran my campaign in honor of).
Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. For once again proving the Q1043 listenership is second to none. Happy 4th of July!
At this point, you already know that I won Man of the Year. Needless to say I'm absolutely thrilled we completed this mission together, and I'll never be able to thank enough those who participated in my campaign in any capacity. My actual total raised will be allowed to be released publicly on June 30th once the National Man of the Year is announced (sorry, LLS rules and regs). For those curious of what it was like from start to finish taking part in this, there is a long note below that I wrote describing everything. For those bailing from reading on at this point, no worries, thanks so very much for your support, and I ask and would appreciate if you at least read the first paragraph below.
The cancer survivor kids going bananas when my name was announced as winner.
Niece Kate is in the middle.
Ok, first things first. Before I get into trying to summarize the past 2-1/2 months of my life as succinctly as possible (never my strong point with my Irish storytelling blood alive and well), It's vitally important to me I do one thing. And that's thanking the greatest Wingman alive. Or in this case,WingWoman, my wife Debbie. For 2 primary reasons, she should get 50% of the credit of our end-number raised, whether I received Man of the Year or not. One... It would absolutely blow your mind if you knew the amount of behind-the-scenes mundane paperwork, intricate legalities, auction website creating, accounting, etc. that goes into running a charity campaign of this length and magnitude (at least the way we handled it, which was full-on/head-first). I could go on forever with all that she did day-in and day-out... if I had to try and tackle her end of MOTY for Team O'Malley, I'd certainly be writing this from jail after going on a tri-state killing spree in frustration. Besides a quick trip overseas for a few days, it was some very long but rewarding days of me sitting at my kitchen island perch with phones, computer, iPad, etc (a place I called Charity Central) and yelling back and forth info, questions, ideas, good news and bad news (which was thankfully rare), to Deb in her office 30 feet away. She matched me hour for hour working on this, and never complained once with my barrage of questions and requests. If I could ask one thing, and you followed along or took part in this adventure, it's for you to drop her a note or FB post of congrats on all her hard work.
Reason 2 for Debs 50%: It was sometime late winter 2010 where she asked me if I'd run for "LLS Man of the Year Fundraiser" in Spring 2011 (Deb has long been involved with LLS), because "I'd be perfect for it". I was wrapped up in something at the time she was asking and all I heard was "LLS" and "Fundraiser". I said "sure" and continued watching my Ranger game or whatever it was taking my attention. It was in January of this year as MOTY was in it's early preparation stages that she included the small detail that it meant devoting 10 weeks of my life to the Fundraiser. I won't lie and say that a "Huh?!" and look of mild shock crossed my face when that little bomb was dropped on me....
Deb was right that I was in a good position to devote serious time to this. Besides my radio show on the weekend, the vast majority of my voiceover work is done out of my home studio. Like any charity cause, it's entirely up to the individual what sort of effort you want to put into it. Being what I consider one of the most blessed and lucky guys on earth (I hear the term "Life of Reilly" alot), charity work has always been a large component of my life. I love doing it because it feels great to be in a position to help others, and because I'd like to avoid having a meteor come crashing down on my head from the great god of karma who has decided I'm not grateful enough for all the good things/life events that seem to fall in my lap.
I've been and am still involved with countless charities, but 10 weeks? I suppose I could have simply sent out regular emails, had a fundraising event somewhere and raised an ok amount money over the 2 1/2 months that was being asked of me. But what would it be like to forego my usual hobbies and totally put the hammer down treating MOTY as a full-time job for the fundraising time period? What kind of number could I put up then?
This was a no brainer. Sign off the 2 1/2 months, and dive head-first and full-time.
My father was killed by cancer when I was 12, it took the life of one of my best friends, and did its best to do the same to my 8 year-old niece (who I ran in honor of), who prevailed and is now over 3 years cancer free largely in part to the work and research LLS has done.
Off Deb and I went to LLS where we sat down and discussed some sort of gameplan. I was asked to set a minimum goal of $20,000 raised. Now when doing big corporate charity work I've been involved in, $20K isn't that difficult a goal... But when you haven't raised a dollar until you send that first email or that "Hey how ya doing? I wanted to talk to you about a charity drive I'm doing" phonecall, 20 Large seems like a very big number to try and reach. Plus let's face it, the economy is still in the tank, not to mention the terrible tragedy in Japan just happened and a great deal of money was rightfully headed that way. I was definitely going into a gunfight with a knife. Nonetheless, with the meeting done, my mind spinning in circles with all the possibilities and anticipation of what I actually got myself into, I headed home to start what would soon be one of life's great adventures.
I got up on day one of the fundraising period, brewed up the first of I-don't-know-how-many-hundred cups of coffee, and with Deb saying "Alright big fella, let's see what ya got, I'm here to help in any and every way you need me", we started.
Let me say this. Want to truly learn about the people you surround yourself with both directly and indirectly? Hold a 10-week fundraiser. Were there people who could have and should have stepped up and did zero? Sure. But you just stick them in the long term memory bank (we Irish are famous for it) and concentrate on the infinite great examples of the human spirit, which were endless. It was incredible. As soon as the checkered flag was waved that morning on March 10th, we were indeed off to the races. The heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of folks affected by cancer were non-stop. From my outgoing emails, phone calls, promoting MOTY on the radio show, and word-of-mouth, the donations started coming in. And coming in. And coming in. I immediately started calling celebrity friends and other pals who had access to cool stuff for favors (both new and returned) to put together and create my "One-of-a-Kind auctions". These eBay speciality auctions turned out to be a terrific supplement to the donations already coming in, folks seemed to really like what I'd come up with, and the only bummer to me besides the massive workload they needed to be created and followed up on was that I didn't win any of them! If you want to see an example how those donators stepped up, simply take a look at the list at the end of this note.
It didn't take too terribly long before I realized the $20,000 was going to be reached. The obvious thing to do was now set a goal of $30,000. Then that mark was hit, and I said well, why not $40K? This situation repeated itself. Alot. When the "buddies to call" list to create auctions was all checked off, I started cold-calling businesses (aka How we got the Vette rental for the SF/Napa auction package), and even that went great. Now what happens here is that you can get so caught up in things, it's to the detriment of your well being. Putting in 12 hour days was routine, and 18 hour days were not uncommon. I remember at about 6 weeks in, I saw a picture of me taken backstage at a concert, and looked liked I'd aged 5 years. It was obvious the lack of sleep and abnormal hours were taking their toll, and maybe it was time to tone it down. Needless to say the next morning I woke up to some other inspirational story or kind word of support, and the cycle just started all over again. Day in and day out, when I finally went to bed, there was always something to look back on and smile, or a sad story to remind me of why I was doing this. It goes without saying how much I appreciate everyone who donated any amount of money and/or products for auction. But to those folks who are going through tough economic times but still sent kind notes and words of support, or offered to post an auction site on your Facebook wall, I hope you realize how much that helped and meant to me.
A little over a week before the campaign wrapped up we held my one and only offline public fundraising event, which was our comedy night at Carolines. It was a night I'll never forget. 5 of the top comedic names in the country performed, and we sold the place out, on a Tuesday no less. Quick trip with Deb shortly after, and then, Boom. It was over. Though it seemed like yesterday that I made that first phone call asking someone for their hard-earned money, there I was putting on the suit I got married in for good luck, and heading off with Deb and some pals to our big end of fundraising Gala on Thursday night May 19th.
To say I was ready to celebrate would be an understatement, and to be honest, I was most happy to raise a glass of whiskey that would make Keith Richards blush (for which unfortunately I had to wait until after the award was presented in the case I won and had to make a speech) and toast completing what I set out to do: And that was raise every dollar I possibly could and do what is essentially a small sacrifice in comparison to what the folks had gone through that I was raising those dollars for. Winning the award wasn't the be-all, end-all. Knowing that though I may have been out-earned and finished 2 or 3rd was fine by me, hey, more money for the charity! All I wanted to know was that I wasn't out-worked. And that I felt very confident about. Party was great, and towards the end we hear 'Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2011 Man of the Year is....".
So as you know by now, It was my name that was called, and I won Man of the Year. You can never prepare yourself for that kind of thing when it happens. It's just a rush and wave of a zillion emotions. And all of them good. Naturally the first question from folks will be...How much did you raise? And this is the only buzzkill: I've been asked by LLS to keep my amount a secret... Because I've won NY MOTY, I'm now in the running for the national award. There's 61 chapters of LLS doing the same thing and not all the campaigns around the country have wrapped yet, therefore they've requested I keep the actual number under wraps until June 30th when all ends. Just trust me that is a number many many times over our initial goal.
So thank you my friend. I owe it all to each of you. Yeah I put in some heavy hours (once again along with Deb), and look a little worse for wear, but it's each and every person that did anything whatsoever to aid my campaign that deserves the credit. All I did was steer the ship. My father always said "When it comes to the people you surround yourself with in life, there are Energy Givers and Energy Takers. Cultivate the Givers, and eliminate the Takers." No truer words have been spoken, it's obvious to me that I've followed the old mans advice well. Especially looking at the final number raised.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to do something I haven't done in 2 1/2 months. And that's take a nice, long, uninterrupted nap, with the only long list awaiting me being of some neglected yard work, and an ages-ago promise of taking my 2 dogs out to the local park to chase squirrels for an afternoon. I'll be sure to have a goofy grin on my face when I conk out, and that will be entirely courtesy of you and your efforts. You have my never ending thanks for making this one of life's great adventures, and something I'll look back on fondly. Who knows, maybe just one of those dollars we raised was the One extra that was needed to find a cure for Cancer.
And that's a whole lotta energy giving.....
With my most sincere appreciation, and god bless you all,
Below is the list of individuals and company's that contributed time and or money to my special events of auctions and comedy night. Please give them your thanks and or buisness if you ever get the chance....
Brad Richards and the Dallas Stars
Def Leppard and Heart
Ritz Carlton Maui
Makena Resort Maui
Makena Golf Club Maui
Maui Jim Sunglasses
John and Jackie DeRosa
Diamante' Golf Cabo
Manuels Creative Cuisine Cabo
Mark and Sue Mangino
Paul and Lynn Martines
New York Yankees
Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Joe Girardi
Madison Square Garden
Jim Haskins and the NHL
Rock of Ages on Broadway
Eric Wellman, Jim Kerr, and Q1043
Darren Pfeffer, Sharon Dastur, and Z100
Marc Rivieccio and Shari Sterenbach
Dennis Campagna and Steve Townsend
Frank DiGiacomo and the NY Daily News
Sherry Netherland Hotel NYC
Per Se NYC
Thomas Keller and Nick Mazzara
Bev Brown and Hollywood and Vine wines
Huntington Hotel SF
Meadowood Estate Napa
Bert George and Jean Georges wines of Yountville
Far Niente vineyards
San Francisco Giants
Michael Yorky and Guitar Center
Chris Connelly and the Pepsi Company
Taylor Made Golf
Paul Ewen and golf Magazine
Paul Sliva and Van Cortlandt Park GC
Trump Bedmister NJ and Jackie DeCamara
Trump Westchester and Cary Stephan
Barry McLeod and Golf PEI
Mary Ellen Davies and Rodd Resorts PEI
Jon Bon Jovi
Greg Charles and Carolines Comedy Club
Gena Rositano and all at Saturday Night Live
Tina Kromer and Hello Tickets
Leigh Rossini and Louis Licari
Geddy, Alex, Neil and all at SRO/Rush Management Toronto
David Newman and NY Mets
Danny, Michael, and all at Ulysses NYC
Harrys Steakhouse NYC
Oisin, Emmet, Aido, Colin in MrNorth
Pete Cosenza Sony Music
Maria Goldstein and HBO
Marcus and all at the Canal Room NYC
Scott Gould and Del Friscos NYC
Cutler Salon NYC