On June 9, Andy Armstrong, the director of marketing for Unitary Products, North America, part of the Building Efficiency Group of Johnson Controls, Inc., presented the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Oklahoma with a check for $21,056, during halftime at an Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz’ Arena Football League game. The evening event, which was sponsored by Luxaire, a brand of Johnson Controls, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was the perfect setting for the donation to occur, since, like the Arena Football players, Armstrong too had physically challenged himself to perform his best just a few weeks earlier.
On May 26, Armstrong participated in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango, Colo., a 50-mile uphill race against a 143-ton coal-fired steam engine. In addition to achieving his goal of completing the event, Armstrong also exceeded his pre-race fundraising goal of $18,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma.
“Because of the $21,000 that was raised, we’re going to be able to grant approximately 3-4 wishes,” said Cherry Murray, director of special events for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma. Although the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma has had people participate in sporting events in the past to benefit Make-A-Wish, Armstrong’s success was unprecedented. “No one has had the response like Andy has had,” said Murray. “We’re hoping that people will see that and want to do something as well. But, no matter what the amount is that someone raises, it all goes toward granting wishes for the children.”
The key to Armstrong’s fundraising success was his motivation – the Wish Kids. “I did it because on those lonely, cold mornings when I was training in the garage and staring at the wall, riding to nowhere seemed a little more palatable when my motivation was to help give a child with a life-threatening disease his or her wish,” said Armstrong.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is close to Armstrong’s heart, because he saw, first hand, the power of Make-A-Wish with a family friend and leukemia survivor, Colin Spangler. Armstrong has also had the pleasure of working with Make-A-Wish through Johnson Controls. The company’s Luxaire brand of heating and cooling equipment donates a portion of each product sale to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“We are just so thankful and so appreciative of Luxaire’s support in general, and then when one of their employees takes it on to do something above and beyond and to involve his family, we are just so appreciative of their support,” said Murray. “It is because of the support and the partnership of people like Andy and his family that we are able to continue granting wishes.”
Luxaire has a network of more than 35 distributors and hundreds of dealers nationwide that are committed to the partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation that has been going strong since the fall of 2001. Luxaire dealers and distributors around the country work with their local Make-A-Wish Foundation chapters to organize their own fundraising activities, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation nights at minor league ballparks.
Although the Iron Horse was extremely grueling and physically challenging, Armstrong said the Make-A-Wish Foundation is, ultimately, what motivated him to complete the event. “The only thing that kept me going throughout the ride was the thought: This is easy compared to what the Make-A-Wish kids and their families have to go through,” said Armstrong.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. It is the largest wish-granting charity in the world, with 71 chapters in the United States and its territories and 27 international affiliates on five continents. With the help of generous donors and more than 25,000 volunteers, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted wishes to children around the world since 1980.
More information about Luxaire and the Make-A-Wish Foundation is available by visiting www.luxaire.com or www.wish.org.