August 6, 2012

Fundraising the Family Way

A family that fundraises together, changes lives together.  If you need proof, just ask Stephen Marcus and his Boston-based family.  After his ulcerative colits was in remission for 30 years, Stephen's IBD returned but this time it was Crohn's.  Stephen said it was then that his now 22-year-old son Jake Marcus began fundraising on behalf of Crohn’s research, and later participating in several Team Challenge events as an avid runner.  

"Jake decided he would put together a team called Team Intestinal Fortitude to raise money for Crohn’s and colitis research with 100 cents of anything raised go to CCFA,” said Stephen. “Our initial goal in the first year was to raise $12,500 and over the past year and half, we’ve actually raised $275,000. So it’s worked out pretty well."

Comprised of 20 plus members, including Stephen, his wife Carol Augustyniak, daughter Alexandra Marcus and Jake (pictured), the group Team Intestinal Fortitude’s mission is to: “focus its energies on raising money to help find a cure from Crohn’s.” Recently the group has been honored at the Loudoun County Half Marathon in Virginia and the Napa Half Marathon in California as the top fundraiser of all-time.

One of the group’s most successful events is the LOCO event, held at LOCO Tapas and Wine Bar in Massachusetts, which is owned by Jim Messenger, family friend and fellow member of Team Intestinal Fortitude. “Jim said he would provide the location, the food, the servers and then Carol and I would provide the open bar so that it would not to take away money from CCFA, and then we hosted the event with a silent auction,” said Stephen about starting the event last March. For $100, attendees of the LOCO event were treated to large h'orderves, drinks and a chance to win vacation packages to places like Martha’s Vineyard and dinner packages worth nearly $3,000 during the silent auction-with the bulk of the money raised coming from the silent auction.

This March, the event pulled in $40,000 in just its second year. Stephen and Carol agree past relationships and a diverse committee are the keys to their success and strong event turnout.“Because we have a large committee, we cover a large demographic. Jake tapped into his college friends and we tap into ours. It is so helpful to be able to tap into different age groups,” said Carol, who helps pull together the silent auction. Carol said they also relied on the help of strangers to raise even more funds, often times cold calling and sending letters to retailers for their support.  Carol advised others to personalize their approach when asking for donations. “Our real focus is to help young (children) and teenagers who are affected by this disease. Knowing someone affected by the disease helps me personalize it. You have to make it personal. Tell your story,” she said.  

Stephen said the group raised $30,000 writing letters, simply asking people to please donate, while sharing his story. Team Intestinal Fortitude has pulled together several events including a multiple family yard sale and two poker tournaments, which has raised around $15,000. For $100, poker tournament participants are treated to an open bar and entry. There is also a $1,000 high stakes table where participants get food also donated by Team Intestinal Fortitude member Jim Messinger.

“For me, Team Intestinal Fortitude has taken what should have been the worst two years of my life based on Crohn’s coming back two years ago after disappearing for 34 years and made them into the best two years of my life,” said Stephen.  “I am so proud of my family for their support and so proud of them for raising over $275,000 over the past year and a half for critical medical research to find a cure for these diseases.”



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