Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fundraiser Plans

I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the past three months and where my life is now leading.

As I take a mental tour of what has transpired I can't help but feel immense gratitude toward everyone for the outpouring that came flooding in after the accident.
 Did you know that not a single fundraiser was planned or executed by me? Or my family.  (YET!)  I have had nothing to do with any of them other than to show up in support of the efforts of all of you.  I'm overcome with gratitude and I'm so proud to be a part of this community.  I must admit I consider myself a helper but not an organizer of a fundraiser!  I really don't think it would have crossed my mind to undertake such a project but I do know I would help.  Now I'm rethinking things.  I'd like to do something yearly on behalf of my son. I've got my thinking cap on but maybe you could help me brainstorm.

Here are the most important criteria to me... Maybe we can think this thru together BUT I need to take the lead on it OK? I have to be the one in charge to honor my son in the one yearly event we put together although I will need a crew to help me pull it off.

1. Chris loved football, most specifically SHEN football although his favorite NFL team was the Philadelphia Eagles and he planned to play for the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons.
2. Chris was a socialite, talked with anyone from child to adult
3. Chris loved to be out and about rather than at home.  He loved parties, vacations, amusement parks, sporting events and restaurants.
4. Chris was very considerate, helpful, kind and funny
So... How do I wrap those traits into a once a year fundraiser on my sons behalf with the proceeds going toward the maintenance of his scholarship fund?  You've helped me with so many other things why not have you participate on this project with me?  All I need right now is the clarity of your brain as mine tends to be fuzzy.

This is my initial idea, feel free to expand upon it or give me something totally new, I'm considering this to be a round table discussion...
I suggest we have a "Meet and Greet" at the very beginning of the SHEN football season.  I think there are many people who would like a minute to meet the players, coaches, cheerleaders and staff who put the season in play.  I believe there are community members, young players and school supporters who would come out on a Saturday to actually meet and talk in person with one another.
I feel as though the varsity players and cheerleaders would be more than happy to say hello in person.  I believe it would make for a more personal season and the community would enjoy the games more once they've gotten to know the personalities of the team.  Creates a warm and fuzzy feeling don't you think? 
I mean, most times people don't get too close to the players due to the distance away on the field, not to mention the players don't linger before or after.  They go from the locker room right out beyond the fence and all that most people see is a number.  There were kids on Chris' team I barely knew.  I feel there's room for improvement there.  I barely knew the cheerleaders either.  I think they would enjoy the opportunity to talk about themselves, their future plans and the love of their sport.

So anyway, the rest of my fundraiser idea is pretty lackluster.  I don't know if people would pay an entry fee for this kind of thing, if it should just be on a donation basis or what else should happen at the event.

My initial idea was to have it on a Saturday from like 10am-1pm so as not to take up everyone's day.  Three hours of mingling with the players and coaches should give everyone time to say hello.  I thought maybe we could have some silent auction raffle baskets with donations of things like rounds of golf, carwash coupons, Great Escape tickets and restaurants vouchers.  All the things Chris liked that everyone else does too!

What do you think?  Is this something you would attend?  Bring your kids to?  And what would be a reasonable admission?  Or should it be on a donation basis?  I have so many questions!  I told you I don't typically lead this kind of thing.  This is the stuff my mind has been twirling around.  I'd love your opinion.
Chris was everybody's son, brother and/or friend.  We might as well honor him together and do it once a year in a manner befitting him and I know it must revolve around football because that's just a part of his fabric! :-)

Thanks for your thoughts and thank you for reading.


  1. What about a flag football game? People raise money to play (Plainsmen Alum, teachers, friends)..$10 ticket for spectators (wgat I have paid to attend an anual memorial scholarship basketball fundraiser)...raffles...If the organization of a flag football game is too much, a basketball tournament or a sofball tournament would be fun, too!

  2. think it's a great idea. Maybe do one admission for adults and age 12 and under are less, or free.
    Don't forget a 50-50 raffle.
    Could you have the annual scholarship winner speak briefly there? It would be tricky if they are already at college but might work.

  3. Incorporate a carnival where people can come and particpate to win prizes. Maybe a "beat the football player" or "beat the cheerleader".. kids would love this .. parents support it and it would allow the community to meet the team.

  4. I think the annual Chris event will "evolve" after the initial year as most themed events do. I suspect that the details will always be special and personal to you so that they're in sync with the major criteria that you described relative to Chris' personality. What I do think you should consider is moving beyond the scholarship mode and creating a Chris Stewart or "I Believe We Can" Foundation. As the endowment grows, there are other worthy initiatives that you can earmark $$$ toward (for example, sponsoring a needy Shen youngster at an overnight summer camp, etc.) in Chris' memory. Just something to think about.

    1. Maryann I love this idea! It not only benefit a child who loves the sport but will definitely keep Chris's memory alive and on going!

  5. Regina,

    I do better brain storming when I discuss with others and feed off of the conversation. Count me in as far as helping you and volunteering wherever needed. I think we need a few key volunteers first and then all have an initial meeting and discuss the what, where and when and how to go about this. Get into the specifics.
    One suggestion I may have is to somehow have food involved.. I think Chris would like that!

  6. I love it! I was just thinking about an annual event yesterday actually so I'm glad to jump on with you. How about some kid things-anything Chris would have liked? Bounce houses for the little ones. pie throwing- my 6 yr old got to throw pies ( whipped cream on a paper plate) at his cub scout leaders. He loved it. $2 per pie to throw at some willing football players. I probably have lots to write but my cell phone is difficult to use on this blog so I will have to come back later. count me in!!! It would be a privilege to assist and participate in an event like this. Thanks for sharing!!! :-)

  7. Hi Regina,

    I think a meet and greet is a wonderful idea. We could learn more about the players. I would definitely come or even help out. I like Nan's idea about having food, maybe some of Chris's favorites.

    I'm sorry I didn't write the other day. I wanted to but I chickened out for some reason. I learned about the accident on Facebook. I cried. It took me a little time before I could read your blog without crying. Sometimes I still tear up. My heart breaks for you.

    I live in Rotterdam. I'm a single parent with one son. He goes to Mohonasen. I read your blog every morning and I love hearing about Chris. He was a beautiful person. I think you're a great mom too!


  8. Good Morning Regina!

    I am so happy you feel comfortable leaning on your new friends:) I am sure Chris is so proud of the social doer you have become! I hope in your comfort you feel the virtual hugs from all of us and our encouragement in what you are doing and how you are honoring your son Chris. You move me daily and I continue to be in awe of your ability to get through what has to be the hardest of any challenges we would face in life.

    With that said I would love to give some suggestions. Mind you I am sure any of these suggestions will be work and you will have to lean on your friends to help and I am sure they / we would be honored to help in any way. How about a weekend of activity? You could start on a Friday night with a powderpuff vs varsity touch football game or a staff vs varsity football game. On Saturday have a meet and greet followed by a golf outing. Golf outings can be very monetarily beneficial. Just a couple of suggestions.

    In my area there is a family that suffered a similar loss. Their son Taylor was a very good baseball player that attended University of Miami on a baseball scholarship. Taylor was killed by a driver while walking near campus at 19 years old. You may want to check out the website Taylor Emmons Scholarship Fund. In the two years since Taylor passed his parents sell Christmas wreaths, they host a golf outing and their website allows for donations throughout the year and I am quite sure his mother would be very helpful to talk with. She, like you , has become very active in our community and in raising funds in Taylor's name for his beloved high school , Out of Door Academy.

    I hope this helps and as always you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    May God Bless You

  9. Regina, I actually was talking to Spare Time Bowling about a fundraiser when they were so kind to donate raffle prizes for the Pancake Breakfast when I inquired. Initially I was just asking about donations and then her and I got to talking and ideas have been milling in my head about how to plan one. The timing just hasn't been right with all the other ones going on. So I have been keeping it on the back burner.

    I'm a member of an Elks Lodge and the Veterans Chairperson for them so I have had the opportunity to be in on planning some neat events. I would love to help you with your annual fundraiser.

    I think the idea about a meet and greet in the beginning of football season would be a great idea. I think if you truly want everyone to mingle and actually have a chance to get to know each other a simple, yet amazing event is very possible. A picnic type event focused around football, cheerleaders and meeting the coaches, with simple events that would draw the type of crowd that Chris was affiliated with for 13 years. Reaching out you will be surprised how many businesses will donate to this type of event. Well you have seen it so far, but there are so many places that will be happy to be involved. I'm positive the school would be on board. Our school does a newcomer's picnic every year to welcome in new families. The challenge would be to figure out how many would attend. Having a picnic would require a head count for food. Having food it a must (Chris would agree)...

    The football team and cheerleaders could do demonstrations throughout the event to keep it focused on the team and the community at the school, built alone by just being a part of the Shen Football program.

    I do have a bunch of ideas, but they are obviously just pen to paper ideas. A committee, headed by you would be the best way to start this and then to go from there. I would be more than happy to join in and help you plan something like this. Believe it or not, starting now would be ideal. SO many things to get on board, like the school board alone to pick a date...

    Okay, off to take my Easter Bunny to work, but know as you go forward, if you wish, I would help. What better way to help keep Chris' passion for football, life and community alive then an annual event focused around football.

    God bless... I hope you enjoy the sunshine that is out there today.

  10. Regina,
    I read your blog everyday...Most days you bring me to tears...I admire you for remembering your son the way you do...I have two young children of my own, a girl and a boy... After reading your blog, I hold them a little tighter at night and make sure that I tell them that I love them each and everyday. In time, I pray that your pain will ease over the loss of your son... You make a difference everyday by posting your blog... You make people realize how special children are in our lives... May you know that your son is watching over you and knowing that because of him, you make a difference in people's lives... God Bless... Michelle Cosselman

  11. Mrs. Stewart,
    I love the idea because I think, from what I've heard, it incorporates all things Chris into the picture. The only thing I would change is finding some way to incorporate people from other school districts. Coming from BHBL, I'd love to help, but I also don't want to be considered a traitor by my school :) You know how football gets! Anyway, I'm not sure how you could do this, to be able to incorporate other community members, but I do know that over here we still haven't forgotten and we want to help. Anybody else have ideas about how maybe it could be broadened?

    Of course, if you don't want it to be broad, that's something else to consider. Do you want it to be more familial (just the team and the spectators?)

  12. I would love to volunteer my time and efforts in any way towards the planning and execution of this event. I've been on various committees for different fundraisers in the past and I can say that silent auctions and themed raffle baskets are always a hit. Please e-mail me ( if you want more info or if there is a planning meeting. I would truly be honored to help, whatever it is you decide you'd like to put together in your son's memory, and honestly, now that my kids are grown and out if school, I miss doing this kind of stuff. :)
    Take care and have a blessed day,

  13. Regina:

    I own a professional event planning/promotions company here in the Capital region. I work with dozens of charities, colleges and businesses every year on some of the area's biggest fundraisers. Email me privately.... I will donate my company's time and design services - and all the resources I have - to help you create an event that you feel honors your son. Having almost 20 years experience in this field, I also can share some thoughts on how people can create events that will have legs.... and keep going for many years. As you said though - this has to be YOUR baby - your ideas, your vision, and your heart, blood, sweat and tears.

    Send me an email offline if you'd like -

    I'm also a coach at Shen in my volunteer time.... so this is near and dear to my heart. I am the dance teacher/choreographer for Shen's varsity colorguard team. So please feel free to reach out when you are ready if you want a professional in the field to sit with you to help with ideas or design or the materials for you. Let us help you on this.... we can do something magical with you - and with Chris guiding us.

    I'm here if you want/need me....

    -Christine Sisto Mertes

  14. Hi Mrs. Stewart!

    I think that is SUCH a wonderful start to an amazing event that will have longevity! I've planned a lot of events in the past....the fuzziest ideas are often the best. And the ideas that start small grow into the most well oiled events in the future. Start with your idea, set up a little informational packet, the who, what, where, when and why and the rest will be gravy! I think a meet and greet is a wonderful idea. Kids would LOVE it. Adults would LOVE it, and I could see alumni being interested. I would go, and I haven't been to a SHEN football game since 2001 ;).

    Please let me know if I can help with donations. Actually you can count on a gift certificate from my friend's design and flower studio. Consider it done! My email is, I will be certain to follow up with the gift certificate and more help if you need it!

  15. Regina,

    Great Idea for the meet and greet, I think it will be well received and I am sure Jr Plainsmen through the varsity club would be definitely on board. I think Alumni would love this too!!!!

    I think your emphasis on "Maybe we can think this thru together BUT I need to take the lead on it OK?" Shows us the importance of this mission to you and that you want to oversee it. I think it is important for you to spearhead an executive committee of people you know and trust will see your mission and who have no hidden agendas. From this executive committee there can be sub-committees...

    I think the first step is gathering ideas for fund raising, make a list, you will be surprised how creative people can be! See what you find interesting or exciting or maybe unique and different and bring it to your executive committee and talk it through. Then from there,when the "big" decisions are made you can invite the public to help.

    I think you are going to be inundated by people interested in helping,(everyone is passionate about this I can assure you we ALL want to help you!)and I fear the numbers of people trying to offer assistance will be overwhelming. That is why I think it is important to form a small committee with a larger contingent of volunteers to follow after decisions are made by YOU. I hope this makes sense, but I have run enough of these fund-raiser for various organizations with pretty good success, the biggest problem is if there are "too many cooks it can spoil the broth"...( or a little less politically correct quote) don't want to end up with "Too many chiefs and not enough Indians" especially since you have emphasized the importance of you heading this.

    I have many ideas I have used to raise money for everything from Theatre groups to sports to church, and I would be glad to hand these ideas off to you for you to do with what you want...

    God Bless, XO

    1. Annie,

      I swear I used some of those same exact words and sentiments in a private message .. Scary! I've been involved from the "helper" standpoint with some of these charity events that I know exactly what you meant!

    2. Sharon,
      :) what can I say? Great minds think a like...hahahaha!!!!

      PS...I love how you reply to post, the chatter between posters to this blog is heart-warming and it is so we know and appreciate each other...I LIKE IT!!!

      well look at that Regina, another plus for the blog!!!!It just never stops.. Yay!!!

  16. I would love to help you in any way you would need me, so keep me in mind when you do your brain storming sessions!

  17. Hi
    I am a frequent reader of your blog and am very inspired by you and Chris. One suggestion I had was at the meet and greet you could sell raffle tickets got a chance to cheer at the game with the cheerleaders, a workout with the team, a chance to sit on sideline during game, a chance to help announce game etc... I think younger kids would love the opportunity to be a part of a varsity game. Chris sounds like he was such a warm friendly person, it would be a nice tribute to him.

  18. Regina,

    Would love to volunteer. Love your idea and those being suggested by others. Football, food and fun...Chris would love it I'm sure.

    I too believe you may be inundated with volunteers and agree with Annie143 about having the executive committee so that your voice remains in charge.

  19. Hello Regina....... I tried to comment on blog yesterday and my phone was giving me a hard time and not letting me post it !
    So's my 2 cents !
    I think an annual fundraisers ....a great idea ! You wanting to spearhead it and be in charge is certainly the way it should be!
    I have planned and been part of many fundraisers over the last 20 years ...some were MaryKay related ..ovarian
    I was PTA president at Arongen for years .... So did tons there..
    Of course I am happy to help you in any way ....
    My words of advice are to make sure that people don't bombard you with too many opinions... Sometimes it can get overwhelming..and confusing (ask anyone who has planned an event )
    What I would suggest is form a committee of people you can feel comfortable working with and share your vision....
    Then that group can help you brainstorm and come up with ideas..
    Then after you decide the theme
    Then you can put a call out for help ...and assign jobs based on what you need help with ! Then all the worker bees move in to help !
    That's my opinion ...
    I'm here for you in anyway !
    God bless !

  20. Regina,
    Count me in. Everyone has such great ideas. Put all of Chris's favorites into one fundraiser. I love the idea of the I believe we can fundraiser. You could sell T-shirts and bracelets with the proceeds going to Chris's memorial scholarship I wish I could come up with ideas but right now I am suffering from a migraine. If I have any ideas I will post them. God bless

  21. Regina,

    I have never commented on your blog but read it on a daily basis. I have followed this story from the beginning and it has hit me hard as a new mom.

    I think this fundraiser is a great idea! I think the community would definitely attend and would enjoy meeting all the players and coaches. How about incorporating a 5k walk/run around the football field (or around the Shen campus) to honor Chris before or after the meet and greet?

  22. I really like Morgan's idea of a 5k, but maybe that's just because there were so many great ideas listed on these comments that I already forgot the ones listed at the top! I graduated from Shaker in 2007 but I remember all of our sports teams getting really involved with the annual Freihofer's Run or the Susan G. Komen Race for the cure. I think that is a great way to get other communities involved, like Hannah was saying, as well as the Shen sports community. These races are generally held pretty early in the day, so that could happen first, allowing all members of the community to participate and fundraise for their "teams" and then it sort of dwindles into just the Shen football/cheer community to more specifically cater to Chris' passions. Places are usually happy to donate energy bars/drinks or breakfast power foods to get those runners energized and hydrated. I'm sure you have hundreds of volunteers ready and willing to cook some of those hot dogs (with or without mustard) and even more people willing to pay a couple bucks for them towards the cause.

    So many great ideas are already out there so I'll stop and let you decide which combination of ideas you think serve this cause best, after all nobody knows Chris better than you do.