When the winds finally stopped swirling and the hail stopped falling on May 22nd, 2011, there was an eerie silence for the residence of Joplin, Missouri. With 160 deaths attributed to the deadly tornado and nearly $2.5 billion worth of damage done, this small mid-western city would never be the same.
Fast-forward to early 2012, when two friends from years past reconnected online and in a New York City neighborhood.
“My old baseball teammate Todd had lost touch for a bit but he ended up moving into my neighborhood a few blocks away. He saw that I was posting about my bike rides all the time and we reconnected and started doing some casual rides just for fun.” recounts Dave duCille.
Dave is a Massachusetts native who has been transplanted to New York City where he owns and operates Central Park Fitness. Todd Greene, a native of Joplin, MO, was also transplanted to New York City. After reconnecting and doing some cycling together, “we were sitting outside of Starbucks and he (Todd) articulated the basic idea of the ride” Dave remembered.
The “ride” has blossomed into a full blown campaign to do right by the residents of Joplin. The campaign, called Cycle for Joplin was born. “Cycle for Joplin is a 1500 mile bike tour over 20 days with the goal of raising enough money to build 20 storm shelters for the city of Joplin.” Dave explained, “We are commemorating the 1 year anniversary of the Tornado (5/22/2011) and showing the world that Joplin is “open for business. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Joplin has bounced back very well. The people of Joplin have a great spirit and they have fought hard to get their city back. That is why we aren’t riding to raise money for rebuilding, we are riding to protect people from future disasters and to provide much needed piece of mind.”
Hatched on the streets of New York City, the concept took shape online and has grown through the use of Facebook and blogging platforms. duCille told me how Facebook has helped spread the word about the project, “We couldn’t do this ride without social media. Period. If we were wealthier and had a bigger budget, perhaps we could but we are so reliant on the networking and rapid communication that social media provides to get the word out. We couldn’t have done this 10 years ago.” With a limited marketing budget social media made sense to promote the cause, but there were other reasons the two wanted to use this medium as well, “Social media allows people to consume on their own terms. Picking up the telephone and calling on people can be intrusive but posting content for people to take in at their leisure really wins them over to the cause.”
Cycle for Joplin is trying to attain a lofty goal of providing 20 free storm shelters to Joplin families. It is a goal that not only requires the commitment to the 1,500 mile bike ride, but also a commitment to getting the word out about the cause and social media has allowed the team to do that lightening fast. Dave explains, “The response is overwhelmingly positive. Donations have already started coming in like crazy and we haven’t even pushed a pedal yet. People have stepped up to offer their rewards points for hotel stays in cities, some have offered their own homes. It’s been great!” It hasn’t ended there though, “An old college friend who now works in sports radio posted about this on his (Facebook) page. Within MINUTES one of his colleagues from years back saw and posted and BAM, interview booked. Another contact from my days in radio is working with us to promote a live event in one of our cities. the networking is amazing, at this rate, Kevin Bacon will be fundraising for us!”
Dave duCille and Todd Greene will begin their 1,500 mile bike ride in Central Park and ride for 20 days to Joplin, MO, but the journey to help this cause began just a month ago on Facebook and has already led to 200+ likes and an outpouring of support. If you’d like to donate to the cause click here.
Not only can you donate ahead of the ride, you can follow their progress using, what else, social media. Dave told me there will be plenty of ways to stay in touch with the duo while they are on the road, “we will be posting videos pre ride, during the ride and post ride. We will be streaming live video of the ride as well as from events we have going on along the way. We will be doing interviews and posting them as well. It’s amazing that we can do all this stuff literally from the bike! I can use the front facing camera on my phone while riding and do an interview via skype! It’s simply amazing!”
Thinking about starting your own Facebook page to promote your business? You need only look towards Dave and Todd who had an idea, got creative about promoting it and the rest, as they say, is history. A truly inspirational story that not only teaches us about humanity and the need for all to do good, but it also can teach us a meaningful lesson about the way social media can impact a campaign of any kind.
Do you have a social media success story you want to share? Leave it in the comments below.