I lost my Mom to Cancer in 2005. Throughout her battle, as a family, we would go to her Chemo treatments with her. A couple of times there were kids being treated in other stations. I remember my Mom saying not to feel sorry for her…..to feel sorry for the kids….going through something so awful as a child. We can only imagine what that might be like for a child and for their family, as well.
My company, Villy Custom, has received so many donation requests from so many viable organizations over the past few years. Custom Bikes are always a hit with almost anyone. Instant feel good item. Bright, shiny, colorful….and an aura of “fun” and “freedom”.
A few months ago, I was driving to work and I was thinking it would be nice to simplify and create our own Charity for a cause that WE truly BELIEVE in. Focus on Kids with Cancer. Lots of money/giving is already focused on research, cures, etc…..but what about the kids that already have Cancer….what can we do for them? We can give them something they will never forget. A Magical Moment to forget, just for a day, what they are going through and something to look forward to.
We made a phonecall to Children’s Health a few months ago and were very fortunate to land with an amazing staff member (Cristy Ecton) that jumped on board and made everything happen quickly. She loved the idea of allowing kids to design their Custom DREAM bike, submitting an essay style application describing how they feel riding a bike and what it would mean for them to receive their dream bike. The gameplan was to pick a winner every month and surprise them. We call it the “Remarkable Ride Foundation”. Life is a remarkable ride.
Our first winner was a sweet girl named Annabelle. She got right on her bike and hit the hardest turn into the parking lot! It made me so nervous but she was fully in control. Then, an awesome li’l dude named Thomas. He raced across the parking lot on his bike.. then I tried to race him …lets just say I’m still wiping the dust off my face haha. Both of these kids have been battling Cancer for years and to see the surprise and the big smile and excitement just took over for me and our staff at Villy Custom. Just really felt good.
The hard part was/is selecting just one kid a month. Our next move was to expand the program so we can do this for more kids. I got a great relationship with my bank and they have always supported the “entrepreneur” angle of our business, especially Kyle Tarrance. I approached Kyle with the idea of becoming our lead sponsor on expanding this program and to my surprise…..he jumped on it. He loved the idea. We are a team.
With Comerica on board, we have expanded the program significantly and we hope to continue that trend.
Last Friday, we gave away our third bike to a very deserving recipient. Her name is Eleanor Slate aka “Ellie”. She is a true SUPERSTAR and we love her. We really got her good because we even had Channel 8 News out to share the moment. It was AMAZING. Wish everyone in the world could have been there. She has Leukemia. She will be fighting this disease for a couple of years, but this is something I don’t think she will ever forget.
Of all the things I’ve had the opportunity to do, this is one I never would have imagined. I think sometimes we define success with money, personal achievements, etc…..but, I now know the true meaning of success. Success is sharing, giving, making MAGIC moments happen and helping others whenever we can. There is nothing like it. Thanks to everyone who made this day so special…..you know who you are.
Thanks to Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban for being a great example to me and my crew at Villy Custom.