Thursday, October 8, 2009

Calling for a cause....

With the shaky economy causing many businesses to shrink their marketing staffs and pull back on all 'unnecessary' expenditures, one of the areas that we believe should never be short changed is community service and philanthropy.

The team at Image Professors has long-lived a vision of giving back--working with viable non-profits and local organizations seeking to gain a stronger foothold in the media. We have been fortunate enough for the last four years, to be the communications agency of record for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. ( October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and in Boston, some amazing and inspirational things are taking place that we just couldn't resist sharing. The most prominent is a competitive swim by 31-year-old Karen Gaffney, an accomplished swimmer and athlete, with Down syndrome. All major media outlets waited on shore nearly an hour for this young woman to complete her swim, culminating in some amazing media coverage for Karen and the Down syndrome cause. We couldn't be more proud to highlight this pinnacle moment in our philanthropic service to a very valuable cause. A sampling from the Boston Globe is below with a link to photos and video.

PR Professionals take note: Pro bono PR results in amazing rewards that are worth more than their weight in gold (or cash!). Don't forget to incorporate a few pro bono clients into your roster for balance and perspective.

A long, cold swim for a cause

October 8, 2009 06:47 PM
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

Karen Gaffney, a tiny woman -- 4 feet 9 inches, 95 pounds – who limps and can't use her left leg at all when she swims, nevertheless churned five miles through the frigid, choppy waters of Boston Harbor today.

It was no picnic. But Gaffney did it to prove a point – that people with Down Syndrome have "tremendous capabilities."
"I did this swim to show people what people like me can do," Gaffney, 31, of Portland, Ore., said as she warmed up after the swim at a celebration attended by friends, supporters and advocates at the L Street Bathhouse.
Gaffney began swimming from the lighthouse at Little Brewster Island to the beach at the bathhouse, accompanied by two pace swimmers, a kayak, four other boats, and, at one point, the Coast Guard. The conditions were choppy, with the wind coming out of the west at 15 to 25 knots, said her father, Jim Gaffney, making for a tough swim.
After about 1 1/2 miles, the swimmers were pulled out, partly because the Coast Guard had safety concerns, said Kayley Randall, executive director of the Karen Gaffney Foundation. The swimmers got back in the water at Prospect Cove and swam another 3 1/2 miles to the beach at the bathhouse.
Jim Gaffney said his daughter has had problems with her left hip since she first began to walk as toddler. And she has never been able to run. But that hasn't stopped her from developing the upper body strength of a long-distance swimmer.
"The conditions were really difficult," said Elaine Kornbau Howley, one of the open-water swimmers who paced Karen Gaffney. "She's just a really inspiring person."
The swim was a fundraiser for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, whose executive director Maureen Gallagher, said, "We want our young people with Down Syndrome to have every opportunity for a full and productive life. And we know they can."
"It was really cold," Gaffney said. "The first maybe half an hour to 45 minutes it started getting really rough and then we kind of switched gears and shortened the route a little bit and made it a little easier."
How did she feel after her feat? "A little stiff, but I'm alive," Gaffney said.