STEPPING UP SUPPORT — This summer, Pleasanton native and business owner Kevin Comerford took his personal interest and company culture of community service one step further in support of breast cancer awareness.
Kevin, his wife Carolyn and employees of his Service Champions company formed “Team Rack Pack” and participated in the seventh annual Avon Walk in San Francisco over the weekend of July 11-12. This was the first time Kevin had participated and it was the third walk for Carolyn.
“I like to get involved in things that are personal to my team members, whatever affects them,” Kevin said. Nothing was more personal than when one of his salespeople, Al Peterson, came to him last year with news that his wife, Dee, had breast cancer.
“The idea to walk in honor of Dee at the Avon walk was inspired by Carolyn’s experiences the past two years with the walk. We got the OK from Al and Dee, and at our annual company kick-off party last January, I spoke about the idea and Carolyn spoke about her experience, saying she’d head up the company team. It led to a lot of fundraising and training.”
Team members are Carolyn Comerford, Kevin Comerford, Cheryl Sosa, Ray Dias, Natalie Walsh, Amanda Cahilig, Cookie Silva, Traci Jump, Kathleen Hemza, Erin Coble, Al Peterson, Chris Donzelli, Christina Donzelli, Kyle Steffenauer, Michelle Steffenauer and Anna Billy.
Avon walk participants were required to raise $1,800 per person to participate in the two-day, 40-mile walk through San Francisco. More than 2,800 participants walked this year, including 256 breast cancer survivors. Participants raised $6 million for breast cancer research.
Team Rack Pack committed to and succeeded in raising $30,000, distinguishing itself as the fifth top fundraising team. As team captain, Carolyn organized activities to bolster the team’s fundraising efforts, including bunco and poker nights, and arranged for proceeds from Southern Living home shopping events to benefit the cause.
Of the $30,000 they raised, Kevin raised $11,000 through his network, distinguishing him as the top male fundraiser for the event.
“I had never asked anyone for donation money — ever,” Kevin said. “So this was the coolest thing for me personally. Over a two-and-a-half-month period I sent out three e-mails to my contact list in my Outlook asking for their support. The $11,000 came in from those three e-mails.”
The event was also an eye-opener for Kevin. In his speech to a crowd of 3,000 at the opening ceremonies, Kevin talked about how the entire company mobilized behind the effort to support Dee’s fight.
Donning pink T-shirts with the logo “4UD,” short-hand for “For You, Dee,” the team walked 26.2 miles Saturday and 13.1 miles Sunday.
“There was unbelievable support at every turn,” Kevin said, and it was a poignant moment when Al and Dee met the team at the 38-mile mark and Al crossed the finish line with them.
“This event totally opened my eyes to the epidemic I wasn’t aware of as a man,” Kevin said. “The stories, and 300 survivors who walked with us, you can’t help but want to get involved.”
View Kevin’s speech by going to YouTube.com and search for “Kevin Comerford.” For more on the Avon walk, go to www.avonwalk.com.
Article Courtesy of Susan Hayes
Contra Costa Times correspondent
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