As MAC Tools President Brett Shaw has found, fundraisers are different when the cause becomes personal.
Four years ago, an employee at the company with a family connection to breast cancer started Wrenching for the Cure, which raises money for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
The Westerville, Ohio, company, which uses a direct sales approach with a mobile force of franchisee distributors, creates a catalog with limited-edition pink tools and accessories for its distributors to sell during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a portion of sales going to the fund.
More recently, the campaign expanded to include a bright pink dragster with the Spielman Fund logo that has helped raise awareness through national exposure on ESPN and at events. In addition to pink tools, Wrenching for the Cure items - which include a one-of-a-kind pink crew shirt and a limited-run die-cast version of the dragster - have become hot items with collectors.
Donating the money to the Spielman Fund was important to MAC Tools, which has been Ohio-based since it was founded in 1938 as Mechanics Tool and Forge. “To give back locally in the community was important,” says Shaw.
For Shaw, it became even more important after his wife was diagnosed with NK/T-cell lymphoma. They did research and discovered that Pierluigi Porcu, MD, an associate professor in the Division of Hematology at Ohio State and a lymphoma researcher at the OSUCCC – James, was one of five doctors in the country who specialize in the rare lymphoma subtype.
“Cancer and The James took on a new meaning for me,” Shaw says. “Going with my wife to Hope’s Boutique at the Comprehensive Breast Center to pick out a wig and some head wraps, it took on a new identity.”
Wrenching for the Cure has raised more than $100,000 for the Spielman Fund, but Shaw says it’s about more than just raising money.
“Knowing that The James is a special hospital and does important research, we’re looking at how we can make things more meaningful than just dropping off a check,” he says. “We want to find ways to touch the lives of those who are touched by cancer.”
In addition to its check presentation to create visibility for the Spielman Fund, in 2015, MAC Tools created its first team of cyclists in Pelotonia, the annual grassroots bicycle tour that raises money for cancer research at Ohio State. “If we can do our part by rallying our distributors and our employees and support a hospital here in Columbus and help with the fight against cancer, that’s our part of giving back,” says Shaw.
For him, Wrenching for the Cure has taken on a new life. “I see what people in the neighborhood have done to help my wife, and I see how important support is,” he explains. “It’s made the whole thought of charitable contributions more important. It hits a little bit closer to home.”