En route to planning its third-annual Big Wheel Relay, New Partners of Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center experienced a few bumps in the road. For starters, its membership had declined to 10 due to relocations, job promotions, and other life events — no small problem, considering the group single-handedly selects the race venue, recruits the 128 race participants, sets the fundraising goal, updates and manages the website/marketing communications/social media sites, and sets up and runs the day-of operations. “The success of this event is completely our responsibility (and) our already small and mighty group became a little smaller at the start of the year,” event co-chair Anna Marie (Ricciardi) Murphy said. “This meant a true all-hands-on-deck approach of all key planning areas.” A second challenge, just over three months before the event, was the presence of a new CHSC staff liaison assigned to work with the New Partners associate board. “This person didn’t have a lot of historical background, and since they were new to the event they weren’t sure what exactly to anticipate,” Murphy said. “Our staff liaison is our cheerleader to help keep us going and helps us plan ahead and stay organized. We rely on this leadership to help us.”
Finally, the original location for the kickoff event of the Big Wheel Relay suddenly became unavailable. “Ordinarily, we launch our kickoff about 10 to 12 weeks before our event date to give plenty of time for team recruitment and online peer-to-peer fundraising. The earliest we were able to have our kickoff event was April 21. That only allowed for us to have eight weeks until the event date, June 20. Never before have we implemented this event in such a short window of time, and it’s safe to say we all felt the anxiety and stress from that.” Twenty-four hours before the June 20 race, New Partners received another surprise — two race teams dropped out. Worse yet was a 90 percent chance of heavy rain and storms on the event date. “It felt like every five minutes in the last 24 hours we were checking the weather forecast. We also realized that we didn’t have a solid rain-out plan of attack. Typically, we have a location as a backup in the event we have to cancel the rain. That way we can still raffle off our raffle items and at least have a social activity we can thank all the teams at. We scrambled to find a location, which we did. We quickly created a more thorough inclement weather plan and created a communication plan to go along with that.” Fortunately, the rain never reached Shaker Square. The race went on, and New Partners reached its previous year’s fundraising total of $27,000 even though it had downgraded its goal to $20,000.
Runners-up: 2015 FORE! Wellness Classic (Lake Health Foundation) June 26, Fowler’s Mill Golf Course/Legend Lake Golf Club; Fall Ball: Rock the Red Carpet (United Way Young Leaders) Oct. 17, House of Blues; HRCC Business Expo (Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce), May 7, 700 Beta Banquet and Conference Center; Market at the Food Bank (Greater Cleveland Food Bank) May 3, Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
2015 — Cleveland Big Wheel Relay, New Partners of Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center
2014 — Red, White & Groove Gala, Northeast Ohio Foundation for Patriotism
2013 — Cleveland Big Wheel Relay, Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center
2012 — Philanthropia, Executive Caterers at Landerhaven