It sounds selfish, but it’s rare to care about a cause until it affects you or someone you love. As human beings we aren’t perfect but I believe we are all ultimately good at heart. But with the responsibilities and pace of “life” we don’t always get the opportunity to show our true colors and often have to make decisions based on logic, common sense and reason – and less based on compassion, caring and support.
It’s no secret that I wave my “imperfect human being” flag and accept that I – like most people – am a work in progress and strive to be better day by day. And while I would consider myself a caring and empathetic person – it has always been a goal of mine to back that up with more actions than words. And recently I decided to finally act on a promise I made to myself involving the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
((If you’re looking for the CliffNotes version of the story, this is STEP 1: Find a Cause))
The Background to this Story-I work for a company that supports St. Jude Children’s Hospital. And it’s because of my job that I have learned about this hospitals mission and goal: to provide treatment to children suffering from life threatening illnesses without ever having to burden the families with the bill for their care. The mission alone kind of blows my mind… a hospital that wants to help children and do it without ever having to give their family a bill – pretty amazing!
And as I mentioned in the beginning of this (never ending post) we generally don’t go above and beyond for any cause that we don’t personally feel connected to affected by. In this case a very close friend of mine had a child who fought cancer and kicked its ass – but that is their story, not mine (#ColemanStrong) – but it opened my eyes to how life threatening illnesses don’t just affect the kids on TV, sometimes it’s the kids next door – exactly why anyone and everyone should help when and if they can.
I had the opportunity to tour St. Jude Children’s Hospital a few years ago and was actually really nervous about touring the facility. I was worried that I would witness a families situation and be overcome by emotion. I had the fear of saying something that would be insensitive to a persons situation. And I was hesitant to enter a facility that might have a “black cloud” over it because essentially being a “patient ” there meant a child was facing an tremendous life challenge. … but my visit was a completely different experience that I never expected!
The hospital was warm, colorful and filled with smiling faces and a sense of optimism and encouragement. There were stories of success on the walls. A bright and welcoming decor that children would be drawn to and comforted by. And there were constant affirmations of support by individuals, companies and sponsors/donors decorating the halls and walls of the hospital.
((Step 2: Find a Community/Network of Support))
Flash Forward to Now-
I work in a very close and connected community. We span the entire globe and can find connections with total strangers within 2-3 degrees of separation. That being said, we all know or know of one another. While this tight communication and network is often used for general social interaction – I wanted to use this as a platform to support a cause, teaming up with St. Jude (#TeamUp4StJude). And hopefully inspire even just one other person to create a fundraiser or event of their own!
I knew I would have friends, coworkers and attendees in Souther California for a conference my team was hosting and felt like this would be a perfect time to share my efforts for the children’s hospital. So I contacted St. Jude and let them know I wanted to #TeamUp4StJude! They immediately contacted me and helped me set up an event and donations page (Events.StJude.org/MattGotoUSA) and asked me if I needed anything else to get started… Talk about SERIOUS support and willingness to help! The process was simple, easy and they did almost all of the work! My overall mission – anyone can #TeamUp4StJude and it’s much easier than I thought it would be – especially with the help of the amazing folks at Full Psycle!
((Step 3: Create an Event))
Enter Full Psycle-
I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d be one of “those people” who talked about going to spin class and be the guy who was always trying to get people to take a class with him… (truthfully I imagined myself as one of those Crossfit people who carried a blender bottle to work with them and used the un-word “wod” in daily conversation …dodged that bullet – kidding, CXF friends) but at 30 years old I fell in love with a COMMUNITY of people who shattered my perception of indoor cycling! After two years of riding front row and getting a killer full body workout at Full Psycle I was honored to join their badass arsenal of instructors – dropping into the studio on the instructor bike when I could (world travel is great and all but doesn’t allow for a steady teaching schedule #Bummer #NoTapBacksToday)! Their energy, experience and ability to command a class was something as a speaker, instructor and educator constantly impressed me and taught me new ways of connecting and challenging others through positive coaching, healthy competition and a culture of acceptable and support (and a killer studio with lights, music and technology sure doesn’t hurt either). The place is amazing, which is a testament to Shelly and Paul (co-founders and operators) who have built this community through a passion for their members and for full body indoor cycling.
I contacted Shelly on Facebook while she was overseas to see if we could use Full Psycle for a charity event. Please note- this was her first vacation since she gave birth to an awesome little dude named Maddox and I inboxed her thinking “oh she’ll get back to me when she’s back in the US” – WRONG, while on vacation she loved the idea, agreed and not only thumbs up’d our date and time but even set the event up for registration (again – while on vacation)!
So already, I’m making good on a promise to give back (St. Jude) – get to visit my favorite place in Southern California (Full Psycle) and I’m rallying my friends and coworkers to join me for a workout benefiting a great cause (win-win-win).
((Step 4: Raise Funds & Gather Donations))
So then I created a Facebook post which outlined the event at Full Psycle – a 45 minute joyride to benefit the St. Jude Children’s Hospital – and shared it on my social media platforms. I was thrilled to see my friends share the post (especially Irazmi, thank you) and loved seeing people sign up and donate to our St. Jude event page!
((Step 5: Host the Event))
The night of the event was finally here and it was at the front of my mind all day (ok – it was literally all I could think about). And when I showed up to the studio I was greeted by Shelly who came to welcome the new riders and show her support (and Maddox who lit up when he saw me – babies love overly animated facials #OnlyPerkToBeingOverTheTopAllTheTime)! The amazing instructor known to the spin world as Nikki Mo gave me a quick run down on how to use the ridiculously amazing board and made sure I was prepared to give the class the best 45 minutes of their week (she’s amazing – pretty sure if she was a food she’d be pepperoni pizza because I don’t know a damn person on the planet that doesn’t love pepperoni pizza and doesn’t always want it around). And when I thought it would be a small group of my friends and coworkers taking up a few open seats in the class – members of the Full Psycle community started filling in the open bikes and got clipped in for the ride – which shouldn’t have surprised me since Full Psycle hosts so many awesome charity and fundraiser events year round!
To say I had a fun, would be an insult to the word – literally it would be like slapping the word FUN’s grandma and then kicking its puppy… I had the BEST TIME I have ever had teaching a class and riding to the rhythm (or being Chained To The Rhythm if your a Katy Perry fan)! Maybe it was being at a place I loved, maybe it was doing something I was passionate about with so many friends in the class, maybe it was knowing we were all working towards helping children in need – or maybe it was a mix of everything… either way, it was 45 minutes of awesome that I won’t soon forget!
And as I write this soon to be New York Time Best Seller, it has been 5 days since the Charity Ride and we are currently at $940.00 in donations.. 188% of my fundraising goal! This blows my mind and I cannot say THANK YOU enough to those that participated in the ride and those who made generous donations online…
But I’ll say Thank You again because y’all totally deserve it (my apologies in advance if I forgot anyone):
Stephanie B – Wow, just WOW and Thank You!
Lisa & Kenny – you two are amazing at what you do and I love you both!
Beth M – you put your heart into what you do and it’s loud and clear!
Brian – you are a leader and a friend! Thank you!
Leslie – your heart is bigger than your wardrobe!
Stacy- I love calling you a friend and coworker!
Rhonda- you are and will forever be my honey badger!
Fran- you never cease to amaze me with your willingness to help others!
Shelly- Thank you for being YOU and for Full Psycle! Hosting the event and donating?!?! You are amazing!
Mel- You. Are. My. Brand!
Karen- Working with you makes me feel like we can accomplish anything!
Bralyn- I will take your donation as an apology for mom arming my donut 6 years ago… 🙂
Carrie- I love that our shared passion has kept you in my life. I love watching you take on the world and carve your own place in this industry!
Andrew- you march to the beat of your own drum. And the world would be a better place with more people marching like you!
Kyleigh- Please add “Philanthropy” to your list! 🙂
Randy- You’re the man! But really, when’s the next adventure?!?!
Damianne- you wear your heart on your sleeve – and it’s as big as The Summits combined! #HadToSaySummit
Tyler- thank you for donating and thank you for the front walkovers! #FlexedFeet
Griffin- Welcome to your 30’s and thanks for spending your last days in your 20’s with us!
Stephanie A-H: you can barley walk but showed up and gave everything you could! I would expect nothing less!
Kristine- you admit to not working out, but you still came and put your game face on! I love your willingness to commit to any situation!
Liz- I miss you and loved seeing you… for old times sake, “Did we get any reservations today?” 🙂
Nancy- You are a badass on the bike! Your energy in class was contagious!!! Thank you for the energy and donation!
Irazmi- even if you were having the worst day ever, you’d rally for a friend and that’s a trait that I love and admire in you! 🙂
Justin- you have always been and continue to be role model in my life!
Jen from Starbucks- you are proof that you don’t have to know someone to make a difference in their life!
Melissa- the eagle family always has each other back and I thank you for always being there!
Kevin, Kristi, Jenelle & Robert- Thank you for coming and supporting the cause! I hope you had a great time! #FullPsycleFam
So the point of this novel… I teamed up for St. Jude and I am still glowing with excitement and pride knowing our collective efforts are supporting the hospitals mission- to provide treatment for children with life threatening illnesses without families facing the financial burden of care. I was one of those people who said “I’ll do it one day” and I turned “one day” into June 15th. And now I’m setting my sights on creating a bigger charity event in the future!
It was easy. It was rewarding. And the impact and actions could positively change the course of a young persons life.
I hope that you or anyone who reads this creates their own event for St. Jude by visiting their website – Events.StJude.org – and helps make a difference in the lives of children across the globe! If you need any help or advice, I’m your guy!
I opened this post by saying “it’s rare to care about a cause until it affects you or someone you love.” And I sincerely give thanks to everyone who crushed that statement and made a contribution of their time, energy and funds for the cause!
Thank you for those of you who contributed, supported and especially those of you who actually read this whole thing ! And let me make it clear – I am not asking for any more donations, my expectation has been blown out of the water and I am thrilled to have so much support. I hope you feel inspired to #TeamUp4StJude and create your own events and fundraising pages! And if you do, I’d love to hear about it!