Last year, Darrell Friesen reached new heights. For years, his company, Jet Label, had been a corporate sponsor of the Climb of Hope Run, which sees participants running and climbing stairs along the Edmonton river valley to a soundtrack of rock ’n’ roll music. But last year was special – during the event, Friesen’s father-in-law, who had survived a diagnosis of small b-cell lymphoma two years earlier, joined him. “Having him go through all of the chemo, the radiation, the treatments at the Cross Cancer Institute, and for him to come walk with me…” says Friesen. “It was a very rewarding part.”
The Climb of Hope Run, presented by Jet Label, has been a part of Friesen’s life for eight years. “We always try to give back what we can, and this seemed like the right thing to do,” says Friesen of Jet Label’s involvement in the charity run. During their first year, Friesen was given an opportunity to speak with the Alberta Cancer Foundation about how their corporate donation was being used. “The coolest thing is that the expenses are all picked up corporately, so every nickel raised gets to the final source,” he says. “From that moment on, I was hooked.”
Since then, Jet Label has continuously boosted its participation numbers in the races. Last year, 106 Jet Label employees participated on a corporate team, with Jet Label donating $100 on behalf of each of the employees participating in the event. Jet Label also provided team prizes during the event. “This is something we can believe in and grow with,” says Friesen. “We feel very positive about giving.”
Part of that is due to first-hand experience with cancer. Friesen and his business partner, Rod Froment, have both seen close family members treated at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. “For both of us, we want to do everything we can because we have the ability to give back a bit,” says Friesen. “We’ve asked ourselves – what can we do to improve the chances or move the needle a bit?”
But they also do it because they’ve seen the benefits of employee engagement in their company. “It motivates everyone. They look at how we support this with our cash and our time, and for them it’s meaningful,” says Friesen. “Most of our employees have, in some way or another, been touched by cancer, as most people have. So with that, our sponsorship hits close to home.”
Friesen is a big believer in the power of giving: “It seems like, when we’re generous, a lot of generosity is shown back to us,” he says. “We have had a very successful business in spite of some of the economic challenges. Sometimes you wonder about karma. I don’t know how much that has to do with it, but – holy smokes – we’ve been really blessed. I think we’ve been put on this earth to do something bigger than just kind of bump along. We can be good stewards and help improve the lives of other people.”
Going forward, Friesen hopes that Jet Label can continue to top itself in employee engagement and donation amounts.
Move and Groove
Held on September 17 in Edmonton’s scenic Victoria Park, the Climb of Hope Run is an annual event – now in its eight and final year – in support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, benefiting the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. It combined a five-kilometre run or a 3.5-kilometre walk with stair climbing and rock ’n’ roll music. Participants were encouraged to dress up as rock stars (bring out the heavy eyeliner, big hair and skinny jeans) and had a chance to win prizes. Since its inception the event raised more than $840,000 towards the cause (not including the final year).
In conjunction with the event, a live action cook-off between Edmonton’s top chefs was held on August 28, 2016, at the Workshop Eatery. Attendees enjoyed a five-course meal, including wine and craft beer, and took part in the live auction of the chefs’ table dinners.
For more information, visit http://2016.climbofhoperun.ca.