Over the past dozen years, with the support of family, friends and colleagues, my AIDS
Walk/Run team, Team STUMBLERS, and I have raised more than $300,000 to benefit the
services of ACR Health and to support LGBTQ youth and ally programming at The Q Center.
Fundraising in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, created incredible challenges! Team
STUMBLERS had historically used in-person events to bring the community together as our
“tool” to raise monies to support, and to educate the community, about these important
livesaving programs and services. This year, utilizing my skills as the director of campus
activities at SUNY Upstate Medical University, my team and I re-imagined some of our
traditional in-person social-fundraising programs and pivoted to all virtual online experiences.
This pivot “opened up” our events, we were no longer geographically constrained to the
immediate Syracuse community. We were able to market our events to a broader audience
and were able to include event hosts and entertainment that were not available to us in the
Syracuse community. Entertainment that stretched all the way to Los Angeles!
While we continued to receive incredible support from a number of local businesses and
donors, many “regulars” were not able to support our efforts this year. As a team captain I
continually reminded members of my team that we “do the very best we can each and every
year”. We thank our many supporters, both business and personal, whether or not they were
able to donate - and we remember that each dollar raised makes a huge direct impact in the
lives of many in our CNY community.
While I am certainly hopeful that our community returns to some “normalcy” in 2021, I believe
that many of the unique fundraising ideas of 2020 will be utilized in coming years. Even though
at times we faced challenges that felt impossible, I remain incredibly passionate about
fundraising for ACR Health and especially for the essential programs for our LGBTQ youth! As a
native Syracusan, having grown up in Baldwinsville, supporting the mission of ACR Health and
the programs and services of the Q Center is for me a fit like finding that “last piece of the
puzzle”. Fundraising for these programs is extremely personal for me – I know firsthand what
it’s like to grow up as “the gay kid” and experience the daily bullying that goes on in our
schools; I also know what it’s like to come out during our country’s last pandemic – the
HIV/AIDS crisis of the late 80s and early 90s.
I am humbled by the nomination put forward by Moe Harrington, and the development team at
ACR Health, and especially honored to be selected by the Association of Fundraising
Professionals as the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser.