Sarah Ford | March 18, 2014

A “Win, Win, Win” Relationship for Hope Connections and Business Partners American Odyssey Relay (AOR) and Specialties Inc.

Facing cancer is scary enough, but thanks to Hope Connections for Cancer Support (Hope Connections) and their free programs, no one is prevented from getting the help they need.  And thanks to support from remarkable community business partners like American Odyssey Relay (AOR) and Specialties Inc., Hope Connections is able to help people with cancer and their loved ones deal with the emotional and physical impact of cancer through professionally facilitated programs of emotional support, education, wellness and hope – all at no cost to participants. 

As a relatively new, small nonprofit organization incorporated in 2005, Hope Connections is interested in creating long term, mutually beneficial relationships with companies that believe in its mission.  Specialties, Inc and American Odyssey Relay are two examples of how companies and nonprofits can work together to support both entities.  “Not only have they helped us out,” says Hope Connections CEO, Paula Rothenberg, “but both companies, who met through Hope Connections, are now working together.”

How These Business Relationships Were Formed

American Odyssey Relay (AOR):

American Odyssey RelayBob Fleshner, founder and race director of the American Odyssey Relay (AOR), was a founding member of Hope Connections’ Board of Directors.  He became involved because his mother was a breast cancer survivor and he intimately understood the emotional impact cancer has on a family. 

When Bob started AOR, he decided to make Hope Connections one of the beneficiaries of the event, in honor of his mother. “We are proud to support Hope Connections for Cancer Support.  We are approached on a regular basis by charities wanting to be the beneficiaries of the American Odyssey Relay.  These contacts only reaffirm for us that we already have chosen a great organization that delivers top-notch support for cancer survivors, their families and caregivers, efficiently, appropriately and free of charge.  As someone whose family was touched by cancer I know firsthand how important the work of Hope Connections really is,” says Bob.

In addition to donating a portion of the proceeds of AOR to Hope Connections, Bob created a special “Spirit Award” which is underwritten by a sponsor, with the sponsorship dollars from the award being donated to Hope Connections. 

As American Odyssey Relay continues to grow, it brings Hope Connections greater visibility and additional opportunities for AOR’s runners to support the event beneficiaries.  More than 2,000 runners participate in the annual American Odyssey Relay event and Bob personally encourages participants to support Hope Connections along with the second beneficiary, a veteran’s charity he chose in honor of his father. 

This year, Bob has added a raffle, the proceeds of which will be split between the two charities. Hope Connections actively participates in the event, providing dozens of volunteers, recruiting teams to run the relay, and promotes AOR through their website, program calendar and email communications.

Specialties Inc.:

Specialties Inc.In 2011, Hope Connections honored Specialties Inc., a promotional products company, with a Partnership Award at their Celebration of Hope Gala.  From experience serving on the Board of Directors of City at Peace with Specialties Inc. President, Joel Kaplan, Hope Connections’ CEO, Paula Rothenberg reached out to Joel in 2005 when she started Hope Connections.  She asked Joel to serve on the Hope Connections golf tournament committee.  Joel agreed and ever since, his company has provided pro bono help and substantial in-kind support through product donations and prizes for the golf tournament each year.  His employees also participate in the tournament, encouraging other tournament players to support Hope Connections.

Additionally, the team at Specialties Inc. supports Hope Connections financially through their 10+10 initiative. Hope Connections purchases its promotional products through Specialties Inc. and promotes the 10+10 initiative to their community. Anyone who purchases products from Specialties Inc. as a referral of Hope Connections’ gets a 10% discount and Specialties Inc. donates another 10% to Hope Connections. 

“We want to increase our business with clients we enjoy working with and for,” says Specialties Inc. President, Joel Kaplan. “If I can help fundraise and make a profit doing it, it’s a good way to do business. And American Odyssey Relay has become a client—they’re getting a good product, Hope Connections is benefitting from the work I do with AOR, and I get a client in Bob who is a great new client—win, win, win.” 



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