Sunday, January 5, 2014

How Do We As A Camp Survive?

by Larry Schaer, Loren Kramer and Chuck Jones

As you all realize, the camp requires financial resources to continue its mission. Historically, RRSC has survived on the revenue it obtains from stroke camp sponsors.  As we continue to grow, we also need additional funding for local and national stroke awareness programs through additional sponsors, grant and public donations. So, we do fundraisers throughout the year to support the camps. Some of the things we have done in the past included a “Trivia Pursuit" nights a couple times a year and the "IronMan" golf outing once a year. We also work at a local Raffle (like Bingo) Hall every Thursday night and we are just starting to get sponsorships for our Strike-Out-Stroke™ events  as well as MegaBrain events at baseball games, malls, and fairs throughout the country. 

Trivia Night
We have "Trivia Pursuit" nights in the spring and fall. We have a fee for tables made up of teams of eight players. Snacks, a meal and drinks are included. We provide raffle baskets, door prizes, and sometimes a silent auction. We offer the raffle baskets and a 50/50 drawing as a way to raise additional funds. There is a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place award for the top teams. Attendees enjoy the event and at the same time we generate some funds.  All the tables are sold out within a couple weeks of our announcement.
IronMan Golf
We've been doing an IronMan golf outing in the fall for several years. This event is a 7am to dusk golf marathon where, starting early in the morning, volunteer golfers must golf for the whole day and try to get as many holes of golf in as they can before it gets dark. You don't have to be good, you just have to be fast and have the endurance. And, I suppose you have to love golf to do this. We provide the golf course, golf carts and cart drivers, and food and drinks for this event. The golfers use their own equipment. The job of the volunteer cart driver is to assist the golfer with whatever is necessary for the golfer to play as fast as possible. The event takes place at a local public course and the course starter makes sure that all non-participating golfers that day have the understanding that our "IronMan" golfers have priority on the tees, fairways, and greens and must allow them to play through. This has worked very well and the non-participating golfers are always glad to step aside momentarily to help us get those holes in. Before the event, the golfers get pledges from "sponsors" for so much per hole. One of our volunteer golfers set a record of over 350 holes before dark. He is truly an IronMan!

Raffle Hall
Every Thursday we have volunteers who help staff the raffle hall at the Tazewell Festival Center in Creve Coeur, IL. This raffle parlor, owned and operated by Tazewell Bingo Center, helps charities and non-profit organizations, like us, raise money for our activities. Raffle is much like Bingo with enough differences to make it not be called Bingo. However, we also have a bingo license because the state mandates that we play a certain number of bingo games each session.  Confusing?  Yes! Our duties consist of behind-the-counter sales and distribution of raffle card media and raffle computer use, sales and distribution of various pull-tab gaming cards, verifying the validity of a game winning card or other winning media, distributing winner pay-outs, and periodically assembling promotional mailings for the hall. Sometimes we assist the game number-caller with the operation of the game. We do not call the raffle numbers during a game. They have a paid professional for that and a paid floor manager on-site to assist, direct and train helpers like us. They also have a cafe that serves food and beverages daily during game time. We usually have about six volunteers helping each Thursday. Volunteers usually work two Thursdays a month.

Approximately 3 years ago, Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp trademarked the term, Strike Out Stroke™.  Since that time RRSC has been developing a national stroke awareness program through major and minor league baseball. In 2014, 16 major league and 50 minor league Strike Out Stroke events are being planned throughout the country.  In 2013, over one million people heard about the signs of stroke and the need for immediate treatment at our Strike Out Stroke™ events. The events are used to promote stroke awareness in the nearby communities through exposure at the ball games with various activities such as educational presentations, poster contests, pregame ceremonies and   public advertising.  So far we have had SOS events with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres.  Every year in June we have a Strike Out Stroke event with the Peoria Chiefs minor league. The Peoria Chiefs are currently the farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals. 

MegaBrain Events 
MegaBrain events feature a huge inflatable facsimile of the human brain. The brain, when inflated, is about eight feet high and fifteen feet square and weighs about 350 pounds, including air. It is constructed so that people can walk through a tunnel going through the center of the brain and, inside, learn about the various diseases, including stroke that can occur in a human brain. Many times the brain is accompanied by a four laptop computer or six Android computer tablet display we developed called ELSIE, which is an acronym for Learning Center. ELSIE presents a multiple choice quiz about strokes and stroke prevention and the meaning of the acronym F.A.S.T. used to identify stroke symptoms. Usually, after taking the quiz, the participant is rewarded with a memento promoting stroke awareness. In addition to the ballgames mentioned above, ELSIE has been to the Peoria Northwoods Mall sponsored by Illinois Neurological Institute, the health fair hosted by INOVA Neuroscience Institute held at the Tyson Corner Center Shopping Mall in Washington, DC, a professional hockey game of the Kansas City Mavericks (incidentally, I got within five feet of the Stanley Cup trophy that weekend),  the Kansas City Black Expo at the Kansas City Convention Center Bartle Hall sponsored by the Research Medical Center affiliated with the HCA MidWest Health System, a Seattle Mariners baseball game as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks. Finally the exhibit was featured at the Coralville Mall on Tax Free Day. There will be more in 2014.

If you can come up with any more ideas for fund raisers we can try, please let us know. We are trying our best to keep our camps going every year.


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