I Became a Fundraiser Because of a Baseball Player
I became a fundraiser because of a baseball player.
One day, I was in my boss’ office at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) when he said, “If we recruit new celebrities, your job will be to work with them.”
Three months later, my boss got a call from a sports agent saying, “Gary Carter wants to work with you. Will you have him?” For those of you who are not baseball fans, Gary Carter was one of the top catchers in baseball in the 1970s and 1980s, and had recently been traded from the Montreal Expos to the New York Mets. He also happened to be one of my favorite players, and I found out that his mother had passed from leukemia. My job at the time was processing research grant applications and doing some PR, so this was pretty heady stuff.
The next day, a call came from WWOR-TV, which televised the Mets’ games and at that time was a superstation seen on cable systems throughout the country. The station had a poster of Gary and wanted to sell it on-air, with the proceeds going to LLS and a commitment to air PSAs during the Mets broadcasts. The poster sales raised $60,000 and increased LLS’s national profile. A year later, Gary hosted a celebrity golf tournament that raised $125,000. This was the start to my fundraising career and the beginning of a friendship with Gary Carter that lasted until his passing in 2012 at an all-too early age.
What was your first fundraising campaign? What celebrities have you met in your career and how did they influence your work?