It was a cool October evening and I returned home from work to my little plot of land located in Boston, MA. I decided to go out into the city for one last night before my college friend, who was visiting from Maryland, had to return home.
We found ourselves at this low-key, fun, hole-in-the-wall, bar located smack dab in the center of the city. There was live music, a few patrons, and free peanuts on the tabletops – necessities to a relaxing Wednesday evening. We got caught up talking about all things On My Team16, something I find to be happening more and more in my everyday conversations. I even found myself writing notes of names I needed to connect with and emails I needed to send on the back of my receipt from the Sam Adams I had recently purchased. I feel as if my brain, and the brains of the individuals I have sucked in to help with this dream of mine, have no “power off” button when it comes to this topic. I am constantly thinking about how we can spread the word, gain social media followers, bump up involvement from athletes and teams, and of course – how we can raise an enormous amount of money to help more pediatric cancer patients reclaim their childhood.
Some call it an unhealthy obsession…I like to call it passion.
However, our picture perfect night got a little more interesting when a young man, probably in his upper 20’s, sat himself right next to me at the bar.
My friend and I continued to brainstorm fundraising ideas and marketing techniques. A few minutes later, we were interrupted, by our new friend, asking what it was exactly that we were talking about. I gave my 60 second elevator pitch – what OMT16 was, how it came about, and what we plan on doing for pediatric oncology centers in the future.
(However, before going on with the story, I would like to make note that one thing I LEAVE out when I give this pitch to strangers, is that the inspiration behind OMT16 isn’t just some random childhood cancer survive, it is in fact my brother. I feel that the important message to get across is the mission behind OMT16, not that I have a personal connection to the organization itself.)
After hearing me talk, the man seemed interested, but he went quiet for a few minutes and my friend and I continued to chat.
Then, all of a sudden, he turned to me, interrupted again, and said, “where in the world are you getting the funding for this start up?”.
Before answering, I chuckled a little because this is a question I have grown used to getting. I looked at him and said “generous donors and my own pocket”. Granted, he was now the one laughing. He immediately pulled out his business card, and handed it to me. But, before I even had a chance to look at his name, or his title, he started interrogating me with questions that I was not in the mood to answer in a bar setting, over my $6.00 beer.
“What are you going to do when people realize there are other organizations doing the same thing?” “What if athletes don’t want to get involved?” “You know you are going to run out of donors and money eventually.” “What kind of business plan do you have in place for this organization?” “Do you plan on doing all of this by yourself? You need a board of directors.” “There has to be some sort of NCAA violation for this, right?” “Why not help all cancer patients?” … and the list goes on.
At this point, my friend had gotten up and moved to a different table, because she couldn’t bare the level of audacity this young man had, and the amount of negativity he carried with him. I did my best to answer his questions without losing my temper, but for those of you who know me – it was quite difficult.
After briefly talking through the concerns he seemed to have, I finally had a minute to catch my breath, and look at his business card, still confused as to why he handed it to me in the first place.
This young man’s name was Jeremy and he worked for a credit card company in Boston. Why he was so interested with On My Team16 and my “business plan”…I have no idea. At this point, he seemed to be over his lecture, so I went ahead and told my friend it was safe for her to return.
Just as I thought we were home free, Jeremy stood up, and put his hand out for me to shake. I reached, and I shook, and he looked at me and said something along the lines of “because you are a young women in this big business driven world, this is my last piece of free advice I am going to give you, get a new story – one that is more compelling, and change your logo – it sucks. Maybe then I will lend you some money to get your business off the ground.” My jaw literally dropped, and it took every ounce of me not to dump the closest liquid I could find on this man. I was so close to throwing everything my mom and dad ever taught me about “being the bigger person” out the window. But, I refrained and let him walk away, and I was then left feeling disheartened, sad, and somewhat like a failure.
It took a few minutes for me to snap out of it and to understand that maybe he just had a really bad day, and needed to toot his own horn. Or, he was passionate about another worthy cause, and wanted to question my passion. However, I quickly came to realize that I had a great story that means a lot to me and many others associated with OMT16…and our logo looks great on t-shirts! I couldn’t take anything he said personally.
At its core, OMT16 is made up of smart, passionate and driven individuals, who believe in making a difference in the lives of all pediatric cancer patients, and I am beyond thankful for those special people. OMT16 wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are today without the volunteers or board members, and all the efforts that they have put in.
We might be obsessive about the number of shares we get or how many people like our page or follow our instagram, we are probably over ambitious in trying to tackle too many issues at once, we are definitely counting our pennies to make this work, and if you add up the total ages of our board members we might not even hit 65. But, with all that being said, and with all the setbacks and failures we will face, if we can manage to make a difference in one kids day, it will all be worth it.
Moral of the story?…There are many worthy causes in this world, but just because you might not have the same passion as someone else, doesn’t mean you need to degrade them and put them down. If people want to do good…let them do good.
Now, here we are, three weeks later, with the same story (and the same logo), about to make our first donation to the hospital that saved my brothers life.
And, with that being said, I hope you can believe with me. I hope you can believe that even though we are small and young, we have a great story, we have an amazing individual as our inspiration, we have an excellent support system, and will make a difference in the lives of many; and that right there is what my good friend Jeremy, didn’t quite understand.
Please consider joining our On My Team16 team, and help us in the fight against pediatric cancer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, to simply share some advice you might have for us, or to just say hi!
(P.S-These amazing pictures were taken by Hannah Gailey – Thanks Hannah!)