Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gaining sponsorship sux!

As I have mentioned (I think) previously, I am joining up with the Amputees Across America (AAA) riders in OKC on 03 July. We will be biking to Ardmore that day and then on to Dallas on the 4th. (The next three days we will be conducting visitations at 5 area hospitals).

I have already received sponsorship for my financial expenses for those five days (food, lodging, share of fuel for chase vehicles, etc) from the Barr Foundation. I have also received product sponsorship from 3rd Eye Mirrors. However, I have hit a few brick walls in regards to the big sponsorship ticket: a better bike! My current bike is a full mountain bike, instead of a hybrid or street bike. It is extremely heavy and has lower gears for power, instead of higher gears for speed. My sponsorship thru the Barr Foundation will allow for sponsors to donate to them and the the BF will transfer the donation to me for the furtherance of their mission. Since they are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the donations would act as a tax-deductible action.

Regarding the bike- I first contacted a local bike shop and provided the following scenario: If they donate a bike, they would get the tax-deduction, I would build them a new website (market value: approx $300-$400. Their current one is plain vanilla, to say the least) & I would share about them being my sponsor as often as possible. After two weeks of discussions, the last phone call consisted of: "we don't think we will get get enough publicity to justify donating a bike" click!

Next thought was the OSU Foundation. They are also a 501(c)3 organization, and federal regulations require 501(c)3s to donate some to each other. I called a friend at OSUF and ran the idea past him:
-501(c)3 donation credit
-OSU angle of sponsorship (staff member for over 16 years)
-Ride will begin at OU Health Sciences with my surgeon also riding. We expect a good amount of media coverage since there is an OU&OSU angle. (An additional reason for media coverage is the fact my surgeon's name is Ertl, the same as the name of the amputation method (Ertl Procedure) of the majority of the riders. It was named after the surgeon who developed the procedure, my surgeon's grandfather.)

My buddy initially indicated this sponsorship would be a no-brainer since there was to be plenty of media coverage as well as the 501(c)3 bonus. A few hours later I got a phone call indicating that my activity didn't fall under the 'normal' OSU type of function and as such, they would not sponsor me. However, they did recognize the potential of the event, so they will assist me with locating an alumni member that could assist. If I do get an OSU related sponsor, I would get this jersey to wear during the ride and visitations.

Why would I seek sponsorship like this for two days of riding? This event is (hopefully) the first of several in the coming years. My amputee 'mentor' Dan is looking to organize an all amputee race across the US next spring. We won't be breaking any records, but would attempt to complete it in 30-35 days (averaging 100-125 miles per day). There is also the chance to join the AAA ride for the complete route in 2007. So, the initial sponsorship I receive now will go a long ways.
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