Early in the week, we as a nation saw the conclusion of a rather bitter and divisive election cycle. But this Sunday, we bring the week to a close with a welcome sight: Veteran’s Day. A day to put aside political differences and show appreciation and gratitude to the thousands of men and women who’ve served in the US Armed Forces, Veteran’s Day holds a significant place in the sports world. There are dozens of nonprofit organizations providing sports programs and services for disabled veterans, most of whom suffered their injuries while protecting this nation and our freedom.
We wanted to show our support for these programs and our military veterans, so we asked Fred Brattain, CEO of The Disabled Golfer’s Learning Foundation and a Vietnam veteran, to share his thoughts on the value and impact of sports programming for disabled veterans.
We encourage everyone to find a way to recognize what a tremendous sacrifice our Military service members and their families make to ensure our freedom and safety.
Several months ago, The Disabled Golfer’s Learning Foundation was conducting a clinic at Diamond Valley in Hemet, CA. One of the veterans we were working with suffers from severe PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). His issues are such that he typically could not handle having anyone within about 4 feet of him without getting very uncomfortable.
Understanding his condition, I worked with him at a respectful distance while we were on the driving range. We always go out and play 9 holes with our veterans after the clinic, using a scramble format so that everyone gets to play without any pressure to do things right. One of the things that’s critical to understand is it takes a lot of courage for any disabled person to show up in public at any venue and say, “I want to play.”
Four holes into our golf outing, this young man walked over and put his arm around me. I was flabbergasted, and then moved almost to tears as he stood there with his arm draped across my shoulders, looking off into the distance - we call it “the thousand yard stare” - and said, “This is the first time in FOUR YEARS I haven’t heard the voices in my head.”
A few months later, Board member Joni Collins and I were running a golf clinic at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, CA. I was working with a group of hospitalized veterans, most of whom were wheelchair-bound, either permanently or while recovering from their procedures. I glanced over at Joni, who was standing off to the side chatting with a woman. They were both crying. I walked over and asked, “What’s wrong?” Joni, through her tears said, “NOTHING.”
I later found out one of the men I’d been teaching had been told the night before he would never walk again, never work again, and that his life as he knew it was gone. He subsequently told his wife - the lady with whom Joni was chatting - that he was going to take his own life.
The head recreational therapist at the VA Hospital, Aaron Hunt, had basically kidnapped this veteran and dragged him in his chair out to our golf clinic. I knew none of this when we were working together. And when we finished our clinic, he’d gone over to his wife with a smile on his face, looked at her and said, “I CAN DO THIS!” The game of golf had just saved this man’s life.
As we work with the disabled veteran community throughout Southern California and beyond, these are the experience we have on a regular basis. Other organizations we partner with at times have dozens of similar stories to tell. Sports, when approached properly, have a healing power that few other activities can match.
Veterans are people who are used to doing for themselves; they are used to being competent; they are used to being not just good, but GREAT at what they do. After all, these are the men and women who have gone into harm’s way for us here at home; who have put the good of the US ahead of their own welfare; and who “stand ready in the darkness” for us. WE CAN NEVER SAY THANK YOU LOUD ENOUGH.
For anyone in the SoCal area, we'll be part of a panel discussion on "Sports Publicity" at the upcoming Entertainment Publicists Professional Society meeting. EPPS is the leading publicity and PR organization in the Entertainment industry, and they've lined up some awesome speakers. Joining me on the panel will be Los Angeles Kings (reigning Stanley Cup Champion, Los Angeles Kings, that is...) VP of Communications Mike Altieri, ESPN 710 Senior Executive Producer David Singer, and Mark Pollick, Founder of The Giving Back Fund along with other sports industry experts. This should be a great discussion, as we have plenty of sports publicity stories from this year to discuss including Lance Armstrong, Olympics/Paralympics, NHL lockout, and much more.
Come join us! Details to follow...
Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) in Partnership with ICG Publicists of Local 600, IATSE presents:
SPORTS PUBLICITY - A Panel Discussion with Sports Industry Professionals
Sports publicity is a specialty that calls for a skill set that addresses the specific goals of athletes and their teams. Like all celebrities, athletes are admired by fans in the U.S. and, often, other parts of the world, but they are also carefully crafted brands that have a responsibility to uphold their own image as well as that of their team, their sport and, in many cases, their sponsors. The panel includes PR professionals who work in tandem with individual athletes, their teams, charity-tie-ins and commercial sponsors. Details at https://eppsonline.org/home/index.php?option=com_jevents&task=icalrepeat.detail&evid=81&Itemid=102
As the month of October slowly winds down, and the "pink blanket" that's enveloped the country gets neatly folded up and tucked away until next year, we thought this would be a good time to look at some of the cause marketing initiatives that have been in full effect through the sports world. The issue of Breast Cancer has been front and center for several weeks and along with the millions of dollars raised to fight the disease and find a cure, there have also been significant efforts by many nonprofit organizations and for-profit brands/partners to raise awareness and encourage screenings, mammograms and other early detection methods that can be life saving.
A big part of the fundraising push during "Pinktober" is cause marketing partnerships with a range of donation mechanisms in place. Some are donations triggered by a purchase, some are corporate contributions supported by an additional percentage of funds raised through retail, and some are "net proceeds," while others can be even harder to measure or quantify. What's paramount for all parties involved - nonprofit, manufacturer and retailer - is following some of the basic principles of cause marketing: Authenticity, Responsibility and Transparency. This is where the relationship with the consumer is won or lost. And the loss can be more than just a missed sales opportunity - we're talking about a consumer's trust in the brand.
We've seen some well-executed cause marketing campaigns in the sports business this October, with manufacturers, retailers, athletes and leagues all doing their part and doing it right. And we've also seen a few campaigns that were well-intentioned, but were missing the key element of being fully transparent with the consumer about how much was being raised, or even worse, misleading the consumer to buy something that actually had no tie-in to breast cancer awareness at all. Lessons to be learned here for all involved.
Let's start with our Prize Winning Pink Champions...
Asics + Right Action for Women
Asics teamed up with actress Christina Applegate to support her Right Action for Women campaign through the sale of several products including a running sneaker, sports bra, headbands, and reversible kneepads, ranging in price from $16 to $100. What made this campaign stand out to us was Asics full transparency about their financial commitment at the beginning of the month.
Their press release stated "a minimum donation of $75,000, and up to $100,000 total, to Applegate’s organization from the sale of the new ASICS Right Action for Women Collection." There’s no question as to what their commitment level is, which gives consumers a clear message about the brand's stance on this issue as well as how they want to be perceived in the athletic footwear/apparel space. Kudos Asics.
NFL + American Cancer Society
For NFL fans, the 2012 A Crucial Catch partnership with the American Cancer Society has included on-field visits by breast cancer survivors, online auctions of game-used pink merchandise and a wave of support from league's corporate partners Tide, Ticketmaster, EA Sports, Gatorade and Pepsi, and licensee partners including New Era, Under Armor, Nike, Ridell and Wilson.
2012 will likely go down as the year disabled sports moved from the backstage to the mainstage in the grand arena of sport. The overwhelming success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games this summer was the coming out party for some of the greatest athletes most had never seen. Record attendance, sold-out venues, thousands of hours of events streamed live over the web, royalty in the stands, world records shattered, all wrapped up in iconic style with a concert from one of rock's biggest acts, these games showcased "ability" over disability.
But once the lights went out at the venues in London and the highlights faded into the vast content pool of YouTube, questions emerged... How does someone who's disabled get involved in sports? Where does a man inspired by Oscar Pistorius go to learn about Track & Field for amputees? Where does a parent with a disabled child turn to get their son/daughter involved in Wheelchair Basketball? Where does a blind woman go to learn about Goalball?
Aaron Moffet, Kinesiology Professor at California State University San Bernardino, knew that without the opportunity to try a sport first-hand, many disabled kids and adults might never get the chance and would miss out on all the benefits sports has to offer. And so, the DisAbility Sports Festival was born. Held this past Saturday, Oct 6th, this free, annual event is now in its 6th year, and is a showcase of sports and recreational opportunities for people living with all types of disabilities, attracting over 3,000 people from across Southern California.
What makes this event unique are the opportunities for attendees to try over 20 different sports and activities available for the disabled, including Wheelchair sports like Rugby, Basketball & Tennis, as well as Archery, Golf, Swimming, Martial Arts, Dance, Kayaking, Soccer, Discus, Shot Put, Javelin, Sitting Volleyball and Goalball.
We're honored to be a part of Conscience Cocktails, one of Los Angeles' top philanthropy event series. The team at Conscience Entertainment has done an amazing job bringing together the LA philanthropy community and introducing everyone to some amazing causes. Their upcoming event on Oct 3rd in Westwood, CA shines a light on Fight To Live. Here are the details...
Conscience Cocktails Charity Mixer presents Fight to Live
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 7pm - 10:30pm
X bar | Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Conscience Cocktails is proud to announce they are partnering with Fight to Live for an evening of socializing on Wednesday, October 3rd at the X bar in Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Join us from 7pm – 10:30pm as we bring together like-minded people, great food and cocktails while we raise money and awareness for Fight to Live.
This special evening will include:
• Appetizer Stations from 7pm – 8pm
• Drink and Food Specials all Evening
• Live DJ
• Body Art by Star Oakland
• Business Cocktail Attire requested
About Fight to Live:
Fight to Live is about saving lives - possibly saving your life, or the life of someone you love. With one in two men and one in three women being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, not including the possibility of being diagnosed with other deadly diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimers, most of us will be looking for a way to beat a deadly disease to live a long and fulfilled life. The Fight to Live Coalition is an effort to bring public awareness and drive FDA reform so that the current advancements in medicine will be available when you need them. Fight to Live is currently calling for support of the Patient Choice Act of 2012, (H.R.6288) that brings earlier access, safely, to promising new treatments that could potentially save thousands of lives. With the right reform, patients should be able to make an informed choice with their physicians when fighting a terminal disease.
Join the Fight to Live by following them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fighttoliveorg and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fighttoliveorg. Meet, discuss and be heard.
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