Above: Some 500 motorcyclists took part in a "CU Ride and Rock" event hosted by Fibre FCU of Longview, Wash., and iQ CU of Vancouver, Wash., raising $73,000 for an area Children's Miracle Network hospital.
Through fund-raising efforts as diverse as motorcycle poker runs, “cornhole” tournaments, and black-tie dinners where minor league hockey players serve as waiters, credit unions nationwide find creative ways to address the medical needs of children in their communities.
In 2014, the 170 credit unions participating in the Miracle Match Program raised a record $3.1 million, including the $1 million CO-OP Financial Services provided in matching funds.
Within that program, a number of credit unions conducted unique fund-raisers that strengthened ties with their members, increased their profile in the community, engaged employees, and—most important—raised money for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals.
Here are three such innovative credit union events:
1. Evening With the Stars. Kinetic Credit Union of Columbus, Ga., looks to the stars for its annual fundraising event—the stars of the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League, and other local celebrities.
The $288 million asset credit union annually joins forces with the Cottonmouths and Columbus Regional Health—a CMN Hospital that serves the area—for “Evening With the Stars,” a glitzy dinner event at Green Island Country Club featuring a red carpet.
Cottonmouths players don tuxedos and wait on tables at the event, with attendees bidding for their services in an auction. Along with ticket sales and a silent auction, Evening With the Stars raised $32,000 in 2014 and an additional $37,000 this year, says Wanda Rutledge, Kinetic’s community relations vice president.
2. Bean bags net bucks. More than 75 contestants in Birmingham, Ala., vie for top honors at the “cornhole” tournament, sponsored by $601 million asset Avadian Credit Union and other area credit unions affiliated with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions’ (LSCU) Birmingham Chapter.
In cornhole, each team of two players takes turns tossing bean bags toward an angled wood platform with a target hole. A bag that falls into the target hole scores three points, and one that lands on the platform tallies one point. The e first team to 21 wins.
Amanda Meacham, an Avadian financial services officer and leader of LSCU’s Young Professionals Board, organized the 2014 tournament.
The event, held every July, benefits Children’s of Alabama, a CMN Hospital. It raised $3,608, which included a CO-OP Miracle Match of $1,804.
3. Get out on the highway. Motorcycle enthusiasts in the Northwest have cause to hit the road thanks to the “Credit Union Ride and Rock” event co-hosted by Fibre Federal Credit Union in Longview, Wash., and iQ Credit Union of Vancouver, Wash.
The one-day fund-raiser, held annually in late August, is a scenic 200-mile “poker run” followed by a rock concert.
Riders head from Fibre’s branch in Woodland, Wash., to the Johnston Ridge Observatory overlooking Mount St. Helens. Along the way, they pick up marked poker cards at participating credit union branches that serve as “pit stops.”
The bikers then return to the bucolic Bethany Vineyards in Ridgefield, Wash. There, the three riders with the best poker hands win Visa gift cards ranging from $100 to $1,000. That’s followed by a dinner and a concert, which in 2014 featured home-grown talent Raeann Phillips.
This year’s headliner was former “American Idol” finalist Crystal Bowersox.
The 500 motorcyclists in last year’s event raised $73,000 for OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Ore. This year, organizers anticipated nearly 1,500 participants, including nonriders, and aimed to raise more than $100,000.
Credit unions interested in maximizing the impact of their CMN Hospitals fund-raisers can learn more about the Miracle Match Program by visiting the CO-OP Financial Services website.