The ancient Greek playwright Sophocles wrote, "Kindness gives birth to kindness" -- based on CreateTheGroup's experience organizing an agencywide team to run the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in New York to benefit breast cancer research on Sept. 18, we have found that to be true.
While we were excited to run this three-mile race in Central Park to raise money for a very important cause, we found the prospect a little daunting. Like most agency people, we work long days that leave very little time for race training. And the timing could not have been worse. The week before the race was Fashion Week -- a tremendously busy time for our agency, which serves luxury and fashion brands such as Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang, David Yurman, Tom Ford and Bergdorf Goodman.
Still, we forged ahead with our plan to run because the cause is near and dear to many of us. We rallied 50 people to run the race, branded our team "CreateTheCure" and designed special black T-shirts with our pink team logo proudly emblazoned on the front.
To raise money for our agency team, we organized a silent auction that featured prizes based on our passions outside work. The prizes, created and offered by our own people, included:
- An afternoon of apple-picking with a gourmet lunch at our CEO's upstate New York country home.
- A vegetarian gourmet cooking class given by three of our top account directors.
- An afternoon exploring wine country in the Hamptons with our e-commerce VP.
- A selection of homemade jams made by me, CTG's senior VP-client services.
- An evening of club-hopping, including hearing a live band that features one of our account leads.
- A day of art gallery-hopping in SoHo and the Lower East Side with our chief creative officer and another senior creative.
- A day of snowboarding and shopping with two of our technology leads.
- A week of homemade gourmet lunches prepared by one of our account execs.
The response to the auction was immediate and overwhelming, allowing us to add thousands of dollars to our team fundraising efforts well before the race. That enthusiasm spurred us on, encouraging us to train on rainy mornings and hot evenings after a long day of servicing clients.
On race day, more than 50 CreateTheGroup employees showed up at the starting line in Central Park, while several others provided support and refreshments along the way while cheering us on. Ultimately our silent auction and overall fundraising efforts totaled more than $5,000, which is impressive when you consider that we are a midsize agency with a staff of 250.
We were overjoyed that our team effort was such a success. But perhaps most important, this effort brought us together in ways that we never imagined. Here are some of the things I learned through this experience:
- The women in our office are more athletic than the men! The women ran harder and faster than their male counterparts on our team.
- Even though we trained hard, we didn't lose our core DNA as an agency that caters to elite fashion and luxury brands. All decked out in our fabulous black team T-shirts, we were easily the best-dressed team at the race, in keeping with our fashion brethren.
- It was wonderful to see how athletic our people are outside of the office. Even with our hectic agency hours, our people are still committed to living a healthy lifestyle.
- There were so many little moments in our race experience that brought us closer as colleagues and friends. From the nonrunners who cheered from the sidelines replenishing us with water and Gatorade to those who chose to walk the race, everyone seemed to have a good time being together. After the race, we spent several hours enjoying a leisurely picnic in Central Park with our colleagues, families, kids and dogs. You couldn't ask for a better Sunday afternoon.
- Most of our runners dedicated their run to someone special in their lives who had been touched by cancer. For them, this was also a healing experience.
- As evidenced by our successful silent auction, our people are interesting, talented folks with wide and varied interests and passions outside work. It was gratifying for them to share those passions with their colleagues while benefitting a good cause.
Finally, I found that participating in a charity event as a team really does bring out the best in people. It brought us much closer and gave us a deeper appreciation for one another. We intend to run the race next year and look for additional ways for us to give back as a team.