Posts Tagged ‘Fitness’

A True Saint

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Drew  Brittany Brees, Operation Kids: Rebuilding New Orleans CampaignNo Super Bowl-bound player has energized a city like quarterback Drew Brees has energized New Orleans. Much ado has been made about Drew’s on-field success and his charity work. However, few articles have detailed the extent of his philanthropic endeavors. It is more than just a donation or an athletic field. It is an investment in a whole city’s children.

It is not unusual for high-profile athletes to form their own foundations and participate in philanthropic work. It is unusual to dedicate the personal time and resources Brees and his wife, Brittany, commit to their foundation and community. They have become a model of philanthropy “done right.” I have worked with some of the sports world’s most committed philanthropists. Brees joins these as a shining example of how an athlete’s prominence can be translated into a lasting legacy of social impact and lives changed.

Brees has an intuitive sense regarding the opportunity and responsibility surrounding his life as a just-arrived, high-profile athlete in a city still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. He viewed his move to New Orleans as being about more than just football. He saw an opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

Brees was introduced to us in the summer of 2006, and we worked hand-in-hand to help his philanthropic vision become a reality. Each project he worked on through his Operation Kids: Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans campaign was a “catalyst project” that would continue to generate additional recovery. Employing the same discipline he exhibits on the field, Brees thought in terms of impact and measurable results in his philanthropy.

Brees’ hands-on participation and a disciplined methodology made this campaign different. The funding and management of the catalyst projects immediately benefited the community, and then triggered the flow of funding for other adjoining, critical projects by relieving the “tug-of-war” that held funds captive.  Brees created an environment where giving and results were multiplied and expected. Each project was completed on time and on budget.

He also insisted on another step. Each of the projects was required to work under a strict method of project “coaching” prior to funds being dispersed. A local project coordinator was available at any time, and unannounced site visits occurred to ensure required progress. Drew also introduced “Expect More,” a results-driven motto to the community that echoed throughout the process.

Brees also demonstrated primary fiscal commitment by contributing more than $250,000 of the $2 million raised. He also exercised his professional influence and secured used weight-room equipment for a school’s football program. Large companies, who had grown dissatisfied with the impact of their prior giving in New Orleans, were energized and reached out unsolicited to join the collaborative effort.

The results, a mere 2 years later, mean:

  • More than 2,000 children ages 5-18 have increased access to after-school programming.
  • 110 children of low- and moderate-income families attend the first fully accredited childcare facility rebuilt post-Katrina.
  • Thousands of students and community residents utilize brand-new athletic facilities at a major park and several schools.
  • 25 high school students participated in summer science internships previously not available to them.
  • Hands-on nutrition, health and education resources are available to more than 550 school students and their families as part of the funding and development of the innovative Edible Schoolyard-New Orleans.
  • More than 2,000 intellectually disabled youth in New Orleans have mentors as part of reestablishing the local Best Buddies chapters.

While we celebrate the Saints’ march to the Super Bowl, I hope equal attention is given to the Brees family for their inspiring philanthropic leadership on behalf of a beleaguered city’s children.

-Don Stirling

Note: Drew Brees i s part of the Pepsi Refresh Super Bowl Grant Project. We encourage everyone to click here and vote for Drew between now and Friday, February 5. The winner gets $100k grant to go toward their charitable project. Drew would use his grant money to rebuild the F. Taylor Hope Lodge for children fighting cancer.

Running for Healthy Kids

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
Tanner  Bell (Ragnar Co-Founder), Chad Iverson, Curtis Bennett (OC Tanner) and Don Stirling (Operation Kids)

Tanner Bell (Ragnar Co-Founder), Chad Iverson, Curtis Bennett (OC Tanner) and Don Stirling (Operation Kids)

Since 2005, Operation Kids and Ragnar Events have partnered to try and make an impact on youth health and fitness. Over the past year, the partnership has developed into a national campaign, where Operation Kids partners with Ragnar Event for each Ragnar Relay to benefit local youth health and fitness campaigns.

For the 2009 Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, we tried something new – several generous businesses donated some wonderful gifts to those runners and supporters who raised funds or donated toward this year’s cause – Best Buddies Utah, where we worked to raise funds for the  Best Buddies 5k walk/run for intellectually disabled children.

We had hundreds of donors – giving anywhere from $5 to $500, who were excited to run for a cause. One of the donors, Chad Iverson, was the lucky winner of the grand prize – a $3,200 Tag Heuer watch from OC Tanner.

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to present Chad with this gift and thank him for his generosity at the OC Tanner store downtown. It was a great experience to meet him and thank him first-hand. We don’t  often get to meet our donors face-to-face, and when we do, it is always wonderful.

On behalf of Ragnar Events, Best Buddies Utah and Operation Kids, I’d like to say “thank you” to all those who donated who helped us raise thousands of dollars for a worthy cause – to help intellectually disabled kids stay healthy and fit.

We can’t wait to see you in Logan next year for the 2010 Wasatch Back race! For those of you from out of state – we will see you at several of the upcoming Ragnar Relays between now and November.