PM360 recently spoke to Kevin Bell, Director/HCP Lead at Pfizer, about running like a rooster for charity.
PM360: How did you get involved with Free to Breathe?
Kevin Bell: In 2007, we unfortunately lost my mother-in-law to lung cancer. As we were coming up on the one-year anniversary, my wife was looking for something to get involved with to pay tribute to her mother. We found Free to Breathe, which was just in its second year of life in the Philadelphia area. This November will be our 10th anniversary with the organization, and over that time we’ve worked with them to raise a couple million dollars.
How do you help the organization?
We are involved with the organization’s 5K run/walk in the Philadelphia area. After our first year as volunteers, my wife joined the planning committee. Then in our third year, she took over leading the planning committee, which she did for a few years.
I usually ramp up my activity in the September timeframe with fundraising, but then race weekend is a whole other deal. About five or six of us get together, put the event together the night before, and then help that year’s group of volunteers ensure the entire day runs smoothly.
Have you ever participated as a runner?
I have, though I literally almost couldn’t run down to the mailbox before I got involved. But this year will be my 10th year running, and now I wear a rooster costume to run. About five years into my fundraising, a family member said, “If you’re willing to run the race in a rooster costume, I’ll triple my donation.” And a couple other family members stepped up as well. It was the difference between raising about $300 and raising about $1,000. So I threw the rooster costume on and I’ve even become like an unofficial mascot of the day. Now I feel like I owe it to everybody to wear it, whether I want to or not.
But it sounds like it pays to be a rooster?
It helped, but in all seriousness, through the generosity of so many amazing people that I’ve come into contact with in my life, I’ve actually been able to be the No. 1 fundraiser in Philadelphia for the last couple years. And last year, our team was the No. 1 fundraising team. So it’s amazing to see the generosity of the people I’ve interacted with in my life and how many of them have been touched by lung cancer—it has been almost overwhelming during these 10 years.
How can interested readers contribute to Free to Breathe?
They can go online (www.freetobreathe.org) and find a local event near them if they want to create a team at no cost or make a donation. Of course, we will always take volunteers. One of the biggest challenges we have: As time goes on and people heal, they move away from organizations like this. So we always need more volunteers and we welcome all comers.