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Still Fundraising? LOWVELO'S Top Fundraisers Reveal Their Secrets To Success

shake n bake peloton members
Leading peloton Shake-n-Bake rode together late on Sunday afternoons for months leading up to LOWVELO.

It took one of LOWVELO's top fundraisers Dan Parker about 20 minutes to meet his fundraising goal. His secret is so simple that you've probably already thought of it: Reach out to your people and be honest about why the cause of cancer research is personal for you.

After signing up for the 100-mile ride, Parker organized an event at his house and invited Hollings Cancer Center Director Dr. Gustavo Leone to speak about the bike ride. "But I also tied my fundraising message to a friend who I recently lost to esophageal cancer," he says. "I simply sent out an email, a few texts, and a link on social media."

Moments later, his $1,500 goal was met. Right now? He's at $8,220.

Parker has lost close friends to cancer, and his wife has also been diagnosed with melanoma twice. "When I heard the long-term vision for LOWVELO and how important it could be to Hollings, I wanted to help," he says. "And it is a fun, uplifting way to be a part of an event that is part of the solution of something that has caused so many people loss and pain."

That's what motivated Parker to not only fundraise but also to persevere as he pedaled toward the Jerry Zucker 100-mile finish line. "I thought about the pain that some of the people who I have loved had to endure with cancer, their treatments and their family’s loss," he says. "Five hours and 42 seconds on the bike was nothing compared to what some people have had to go through."

Hosting a house event is also what kickstarted the efforts of Team Shake-n-Bake, the leading peloton that has, so far, raised $27,745 for cancer research, far exceeding its $20,000 goal.

The team is led by the chairman of Hollings Cancer Center's Citizens Advisory Council and Columbia resident Preston Covington, who says he has great friends who have supported his Hollings volunteerism from day one. Calling on that strong circle for support, Preston and his wife Mary assembled an 18-strong team by hosting 50 friends at their home to show why they were passionate in their support of LOWVELO.

Once again, personally reaching out to friends and family was key. Loved ones knew exactly how cancer had touched the Covingtons’ lives. Mary lost her father to brain cancer when he was only 48, while Preston's father is a cancer survivor. "And, unfortunately, I've lost three young friends, ages 25 to 62, to cancer in just the past five years alone," he says. "I truly believe with every ounce of my being that one day we will find a cure and it will be in no small part because of the money we raise at events just like LOWVELO."

One of the first rock star fundraisers right out of the gate over the summer was TD Bank's David Wenger. The strategy? A simple but heartfelt, short but informative email to friends, family, and colleagues. Each note began with a personal sentiment for that specific recipient, followed by clarifying that 100% of rider-raised funds goes to cancer research at Hollings Cancer Center.

Wenger also explained that he would ride for his mother-in-law, who is fighting stage 4 ovarian cancer, closing with, "Unfortunately, many people across the world are suffering in the same way. I hope to make a difference, so we don't lose anyone else. If you have the means, below is a link that you can use to make a donation. Also, feel free to forward this email to anyone you know who would like to support the cause. Please do not feel obligated to donate if you can't. Your prayers and positive spirit are just as powerful and are greatly appreciated."

Wenger raised $5320, helping TD Bank's peloton to surpass their $5,250 by $6,370.

Gerard Silvestri. M.D., who specializes in thoracic oncology at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, is another leading fundraiser who emphasizes the impact of making personalized connections with loved ones in the quest to raise donations. Though his goal for the Boeing 50-mile ride was only $1,250, Silvestri is currently at $8,100, and that number accumulated one friend at a time. “All I did was ask and ask and ask and ask,” he says, noting that he doesn’t see himself as a superstar at all. “People want to give, and the cause is a good one.”

His advice to fellow fundraisers? “Go through all of your contacts and ask friends to go through theirs,” he says. “I went through texts to all family and friends and emailed colleagues and coworkers. Whenever someone came to mind, I immediately texted them. The response was overwhelming.”

Don't forget that with the holidays ahead, including the annual Day of Giving on Tues. Dec. 3, there's a lot of fundraising momentum left in 2019. The holiday season presents plenty of excuses to host gatherings or personally reach out to loved ones who’d love to support a good cause this time of year.

As for Parker, his advice is to connect to the cause. “Hollings is a local story that resonates with just about everyone." he says. "…This is something that friends and family want to support, especially when they know the momentum and great things being done at MUSC Hollings. You can sum it up in three or four sentences and people will identify with it."

Get a little more help from your friends at LOWVELO:

  • Download our fundraising tool kit here.
  • Read about how a grandmother’s cancer battle inspired one rider to crush her fundraising goal here, and find out more creative ways to fundraise, plus a few social media tips, here.

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