Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Be Inspired... by Travis

I want to share a story with you about Travis and his efforts to raise money for the Utah State Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He is determined, passionate, and quite frankly, amazing. He decided to get up and do something and he is doing it in a BIG way.

Here is his story...

The Utah State Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society holds several charity events throughout the year to raise money for awareness, treatments, research and a cure for MS. It's biggest money raising event is Bike MS. Every state has at least one bike ride wherein riders collect donations in order to participate.

My father, who was a firefighter, started riding in the MS ride, which is a two day ride of approximately 75 miles each day, several years back. Every year he would invite me to join and I would decline every year. My reasons always felt pretty justified... I didn't own a bike, I was way out of shape, I was busy that weekend etc..., etc....
Then, about 7 years ago my brother Isaac and my sister Brandy were diagnosed with MS within a few months of each other. My dad continued to ride the Bike MS ride and collect donations... and invite me to ride. I'm embarrassed to admit that I still declined citing the same reasons I used in previous years. I was always sure, however, to donate as much as possible to my dad and the MS Society.
4 1/2 years ago, my father passed away suddenly from a stroke. He appeared to be in amazing shape and wonderful health but it's in our genes to have high cholesterol and his, we later learned, was through the roof. He had no idea. I have struggled to come to terms with my dad's passing. I miss him terribly. I have lost others in my life... siblings even... but none were so difficult to feel at peace with. I don't remember exactly when or why, but I decided to ride in the MS ride in his memory and on behalf of my brother and sister. I realized that I was just sitting around hoping someone else would help my brother and sister... that someone else would find the cure or help with their treatments. So, last fall I bought a bike and decided to start getting ready for Bike MS and that I would carry on part of his legacy.

Part of participating for Bike MS is you are required to raise a minimum of $250 for the chapter. You can ride alone or with a team. I decided it would be fun to organize a team. So, I recruited a friend, my brother, and brother-in-law to form our "team". I then realized we needed a team name. I thought about what it should be for weeks. It often consumed my thoughts. I wanted something that would be meaningful to me but a name that others could embrace for themselves. One afternoon I called my mom to see what Brandy and Isaac's names mean. Brandy means "from the hills of fire" and Isaac means "born laughing". Fire and Laughter... that was it. It took about 10 seconds to realize that was the name I would use year after year.
Since that day a couple months ago, we have raised almost $5,000 with much more to come. We now have 6 riders and 4 or 5 volunteers that have all joined team "Fire and Laughter". We have been working hard to raise as much as possible and set a team goal of $2,000 originally and then changed it to $4,500. I thought originally that within 5 or 7 years I would like to be able to raise $10,000 for a ride. I realize that should be our goal in the next year or two. I hope to grow the team every year and thusly raise more and more money. I eventually want to be able to rasie tens of thousands each year for MS.
So far this year, we have teamed up with a few local businesses who were kind enough to make contributions and become our sponsors. I payed for a movie theatre at the District for opening night of Iron Man 2. We got the theatre to discount the tickets for us and then we marked them up and raised hundreds of dollars toward our team goal. Our team logo was designed by a local tattoo artist and he also paid for the printing of a bunch of t-shirts for our team and to sell to the public to raise more money.
{So cool!}

We found a local tshirt company that typically doesn't sell wholesale to the public. They made an exception when they found out we were raising money for MS. Turns out the owner also has MS. We're selling our t-shirts for $10 each and, of course, the proceeds go to our team and the MS Society.
I have been emailing, texting and facebooking as much as possible to get people to donate and, to date, have personally been able to raise over $2,700. To put our numbers in context (understanding first and foremost what the numbers really mean, of course) our team is by far and away the smallest team to raise so much money so far. We rank in the top 10 teams in fundraising and almost every other team above us is 2-5x's larger than ours... plus it's our first year!
I have also committed to donate 5% of my earnings every time someone buys or sells their home through me.
We had a sign company donate 2 huge and very expensive banners for us for free. The tattoo shop designed our logo and did screen printing on our t-shirts for free. The movie theatre discounted the seat prices. Kinkos discounted printing costs. One of the bike shops that sponsor us, donated 10% of their sales on our "team night" to our team. And so on and so forth. We have had so much support it's unbelievable. That doesn't take into account team members who joined our team just to support the cause or a wife who has sort of lost me the last couple months while I've been working on this.
I am passionate about this cause. I do believe we will live to see a cure for this disease and I will be dang proud and humbled at the same time to know I did my part.

See?!?! Amazing! I cannot believe how much he has been able to accomplish, particularly in his first year of doing this! He has gone to such great lengths to raise money for this cause. I completely admire his passion, drive, and seriously awesome fundraising skills!
Thank you for sharing your story Travis. You are truly an inspiration. I'm certain your dad is so very proud of you and so pleased that the legacy continues, and in such a big way.

The Bike MS event will be June 26th and June 27th. So, there is still time to get involved.
If you'd like to support Travis you can go here OR you can go here to help Travis and his team. You can make a donation, volunteer to help, or purchase their t-shirt. You can also ride in the event. Travis informed me that you can register to ride, right up to the day of the event. There are 100, 75, and 40 mile loop options and you can ride one or both of the days. If you'd like to ride and you want to be on a team, let me know and I'll forward you on to Travis, or you can visit his Facebook page called Fire and Laughter.

When I grow up, I want to be like Travis.


Thelissa said...

Yay! I'm so glad to see his story on here! I think it is a neat one! What a great thing he is doing!

Travis said...

I want everyone who reads this to realize that much of this was a colaboration of an amazing team. I could not have done any of it whithout the early support of my brother, Shane, who is riding with us and my little sister, Kendra who has really taken the bull by the horns and is equally as passionate about this great cause. Without them and my other team members most of this would have never happened. I would have raised a few bucks but nothing like we're about to accomplish. Thank you team Fire and Laughter!

rach said...

What an inspiring story...Travis is amazing! Good luck to his team this weekend!