Brands helping Athlete Recovery Fund (ARF)
Athlete Recovery Fund is a 501 (c)3 charity that was established February of 2008 after Stephen Murray suffered a crash that left him a quadriplegic. Mission Statement:
To provide professional athletes in BMX, FMX and Skateboarding with financial support after a severe injury and granting funds for rehabilitation, equipment, long-term disability and educational scholarships.
Any time that ARF seeks a donation from a brand it is surrounded by a conscious effort to implement “cause marketing” into the process. “I have some experience in working with brands from managing my brother’s sponsors for the past five years. I had the pleasure of working with Mt. Dew (Fuse), DC Shoes, Fox, Specialized, Kicker, Boost Mobile, Bell Helmets, Zune and more. Also managing a freestyle BMX tour in the past taught me about delivering on the needs a sponsor has when they have provided a monetary investment”, Aaron Cooke ARF President. “The ability ARF has to bring exposure to a brand while accomplishing our goals of growing a fund to help injured athletes in action sports is a unique opportunity that can give credibility to brand trying to break into action sports or solidify a sponsor’s position as a supporter of even the down side of our sports, injury.”
The following information is an example of how some brands got involved with donating to ARF.
Sierra Domaille, PR Manager – Nike 6.0 “Nike 6.0 heard about ARF through their activation at the Summer Dew Tour. Once welearned about ARF’s mission, Nike 6.0 had two objectives at the summer Dew Tour, do something that supports the athletes and create a more premium experience for them in the athlete lounge. We created a mock poker tournament at each of the Dew Tour stops for participating athletes during their down time, with a prize purse that would be donated to ARF on behalf of the tournament winner. This provided a unique experience for the athletes and supported them in the best way by helping to support ARF. At the end of summer tour and after multiple rounds of poker, it came down to the final hand. Nike 6.0 donated $10,000 in the name of the winner (BMX Pro Rob Darden) to ARF.”
“To celebrate BMX’s debut as an Olympic sport in Beijing, Nike 6.0 created an art show called Lightning Bolts, based around the Bob Haro’s iconic number plate. Nike 6.0 invited select artists with a cultural connection to BMX to create unique pieces of art, using the number plate as a canvas. From the beginning, our goal with the project was to curate an art show that bridged the history and future of BMX together and then auction off the pieces to give back to the BMX community. We partnered with ARF to give back directly to the athletes who are the ones really pushing and growing the sport. Through ARF we worked together to execute and promote the online auction, successfully raising over $6,000 for ARF.” Video Link
Part of Nike 6.0’s mission is to help grow action sports and make the world a better place for action sports. ARF’s commitment to the health and protection of the athletes exemplifies this. Nike 6.0 supports ARF’s dedication to support injured action sports athletes and have found ARF to be a solid and reliable partner.”
Ben Montano, Global Brand Manager - Nerf / Hasbro “The partnership with ARF provided great benefits to the NERF Dart Tag brand. Through this partnership NERF was able to work with 5 dedicated athletes to help drive awareness of the Dart Tag brand and help educate kids on the sport dynamic of NERF Dart Tag. The integration of the athletes in the first official announcement of NERF Dart Tag as a pure sport elevated the awareness of the game.”
“We also believe that the donation ($25,000) to the ARF helped to create awareness of NERF Dart Tag as an up-and-coming action sport. In 2010 NERF Dart Tag came on as an official partner/sponsor of the AST and has activated the first official NERF Dart Tag World Championships.”
“Working with the ARF and athletes was a great experience. The ARF team is truly dedicated to serving the athletes and looking out for their livelihood and well being.”
Jennifer Tran, Assistant Brand Manager - Ball Park Franks “The Ball Park team learned of ARF’s incredible commitment to the action sports world, having just become an official 501(c) 3 organization. We were moved by their passion and dedication to the athletes and their families. As our brand looked to become more ingrained in the action sports world, we felt it was only natural to support an integral cause that benefits athletes in BMX, Skateboarding, and FMX.”
‘We wanted to do something that involved more than just writing a check, so we sat down with our key partners, Transworld & Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports, and started discussions on cool ways to make a donation that would really make an impact for the charity. Through an incredibly collaborative effort, we landed on the idea of a viral video in which Ball Park would donate $1 for every full video viewing up to $100,000 dollars that would not only help ARF raise money, but also increase awareness at the same time.”
“With a solid idea in place, we then approached ARF to gain their support. From the minute Aaron (ARF Executive Director) heard about our idea, he was stoked and really pushed to put the project into full gear. With all of the pieces in place, Transworld & ARF began outreach to some of the top action sports athletes, who had a history of making personal donations to ARF and realized the importance of the cause, for their support and testimonials to appear in the video. The result was amazing. Transworld did a fantastic job developing the video for us and Alli supported the campaign by premiering the video during the Skate Park finals at the Portland stop of the 2009 Summer Dew Tour. We also generated quite a bit of buzz in festival village, applying SupportARF.com temp tattoos and encouraging many of the fans to check out the video online.”
“Since the initial release, the video has been picking up steam on both personal and endemic sites including ESPN.com – really helping to push the viral side of the plan. Additionally, athletes are now posting the video on their personal Facebook & Myspace pages, and we are even seeing people tweets about the video, helping to generate even more buzz! We’re thrilled to see the instant popularity of the video – it’s really caught fire and is creating a great amount of awareness for ARF and Ball Park’s commitment to the cause.”
“When you’re relatively new to the space, it can definitely be challenging to establish yourself. For Ball Park, supporting ARF, which is so ingrained in action sports, has really helped us take our commitment to the community to the next level. It’s showing people that we are serious about action sports, not only among fans, but also among athletes and other sponsors. It was also important to not only support ARF, but help generate awareness among fans to help ARF achieve its goals. The viral video was a great partnership with Ball Park, Transworld, & Alli to get the word out on what ARF is and why it’s important to support this particular organization.”
“Any brands that sponsor athletes in BMX, FMX, and Skateboarding should definitely become involved with ARF. It helps to show their commitment to the athletes, the sport, and the culture. ARF has both short-term and long-term goals, so brands of any size would be able to help them achieve these goals.” www.supportARF.com
Other examples of cause marketing surround donations would be Playstations “Player of the year” award, where an athlete is recognized for his actions outside the sport on the final cup ceremony show aired on NBC and a donation of $5,000 was made to ARF in his name. S&M Bicycles made a donation of $5,000 and provided product that was used in a live auction. Heal Clothing provided the option for the customer to donate proceeds to ARF when shopping online, Woodward Camp made a donation of $2,500 and provided a one week pass to their summer action sports camp. Paul Mitchell set up a booth in the festival village at the Dew Tour and cut hair for a cause offering haircuts from their local stylists with all proceeds going to ARF.
ARF is currently working on the participation of new partners and renewal activities from past partners. Bottom line is that when a donation is made to ARF it begins a partnership that will gain unique and credible exposure to your brand. ARF gets involved with each brand to accomplish the goals of the cause marketing effort.
You may contact Aaron Cooke, ARF President, at Aaron@AthleteRecoveryFund.com to get your brand involved today.