In 2004, five years after losing his father to cancer, Mike Huey, marketing director at Cable One in Anniston, Ala., was looking for a cause for his station to support.
“I had never been involved with [a cancer] cause, but I was looking for avenues for Cable One to do something in the community and I learned about the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life fundraiser,” Huey says.
He then adds that his brother's wife has, in the years since, been diagnosed with breast cancer. “The disease touches everybody—if it's not someone in your immediate family, then it's a friend.”
Huey had Cable One team up with radio stations WVOK AM/FM to become media partners. The results of this partnership have been encouraging.
Cable One's own team raised $5,800 for the Relay this year through bake sales, a car wash and other events. “People from the company get highly involved with these efforts,” Huey says, adding that it also “helps set Cable One apart as a good corporate citizen.”
And that was just the start of the fundraising efforts. Huey has sat on the Relay committee as media co-chair, helping to get donations of more than $20,000 each year and bringing awareness to the community. In addition, Cable One has provided $100,000 in cross-channel promotional inventory for the campaign on an annual basis.
In 2004, the year before Cable One signed on, the Relay raised $189,000 in the community. In 2005, that number climbed to $246,000. By 2006, the pot was over $400,000, and it broke the $500,000 mark the following year and the $600,000 barrier this spring. (The operator also helps raise money for other organizations with events like a Cerebral Palsy telethon.)
Huey says in the beginning when he pushed everyone to try and bump those numbers higher each year, there was some skepticism among the committee and the volunteers.
“I'm the loudmouth in the group and I said, 'Let's keep trying until we can't do it,'” he says. The skepticism has since been replaced by optimistic ambition. “Our long-term goal,” Huey says, “is to be the first Relay for Life in the area to get to a million dollars in a year.”