Special Olympics Utah Fundraising Shuffle

Filed under:Special Olympics, Opinion — posted by Tyler on February 27, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

Special Olympcis UtahLet me start by saying that I absolutely love Special Olympics Utah [sout.org] and everything they stand for. I am a volunteer, unified athlete, huge supporter and even a former employee. Maybe the fact that I used to work there compounds my frustration in their tactics to raise money; and that’s what this post is about. Hopefully I’ll be able to spin this into a positive in the end.

It’s frustrating to see the prostitution of one idea after another in their attempts to come up with something that will help raise money. It almost seems like an act of desperation at times. I wish more people would just support the cause without having to be hoodwinked into it. (Not that that’s always the case.) Part of the frustrating thing for me (and I’m sure for Special Olympics as well) is the fact that not very many ideas usually stick. As a result people like me who want to see Special Olympics succeed almost feel betrayed as we give our time, money and support to one idea after another only to see the apparent failure of an idea that we supported.

An example of this is the “Shop and Support” program that was being pushed hard when I was working there in 2003. We sent out emails and included it in every publication (print, web and otherwise). That’s why I was shocked to find a new program in its place (seemingly not as well organized but admittedly with an added addition that may indeed work out better, and also visually not even half as appealing when it comes to web design). The new program has a familiar ring; it’s called the “Shop and Give” [tricordia.com] Program.

The difference between the two programs is:

  1. Shop and Support
    • Required either that a program be installed on your computer and running in the system tray when online purchases were made or that you click on a gateway link before purchasing online
    • Support by hundreds of national chains that promised a portion of your online purchase be redirected back to Special Olympics chapters depending on the zip code registered in the installed software
    • Purchase tracking only by online purchases
  1. Shop and Give
    • No software required. (That’s huge! I always had a problem with the installation and I’m betting that might have been the demise of the Shop and Support program; although it looks like it still might be going strong in New York)
    • Purchase tracking by online gateway links as well as by credit cards registered with the program for in-store purchases. (That’s big as well and a definite benefit to the program. While online shopping is growing in popularity, it’s still not the main way that people make the majority of their purchases.)
    • The Shop and Give program is marketed as an advertising benefit to the retailer. This is also an added benefit over the original Shop and Support program. However, the amount of retailers involved in the new program is dwarfed (at the moment) by the amount involved in the old program.

So, while the programs vary and have different pros and cons, the fact remains that at some level I feel ripped off. I wrote an email to Wurld Media (the people behind “Shop and Support”) and asked them if my online purchases still count for my registered 84095 zip code. I sent it to JD Donnelly (CEO of Special Olympics Utah) as well. I’ll post any replies as comments below if I receive any.

While I’m frustrated (and I think that’s the key word and probably describes how the good people at Special Olympics Utah feels) about the constant change in fundraising tactics, I think that they’re just doing the best they can. To their credit, they are coming up with some great ideas that are sticking; like their annual Ski for Gold [events.org] event at Brighton which will likely expand to even more ski resorts in the coming years. I know that they are trying. Their cause is WORTHY!

I hope that you’ll join me in supporting them in any way you can. Money is a big part of helping, but so is volunteering. If you can’t monetarily support them, at least get involved as a volunteer by contacting their fabulous Volunteer Coordinator, Rochelle Deeter!

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Amazing...and absolutely nuts!

Filed under:Inspiring, Cool Stuff, Video, Friends — posted by Tyler on February 22, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

I have a good friend (Clint) that has the same sense of exploration and adventure as I do. We’ve gone on many an exploration and someday we’d like to finish one of the several documentations that we’ve started; if not on film or paper then at least in our minds. He’s an excellent writer and I’m an excellent videographer :D so we’ll make a good match.

We’ve never even come close to even THINKING about what two explorer/adventurists are doing right now. The first ever winter (that means dark in the North Pole) trek to the North Pole is currently being attempted by Børge Ousland and Mike Horn. They are about halfway there as of today!

Mike and Børge have to deal with bitter cold, ice drifts, freezing winds and even close encounters with polar bears [ousland.no]! They’ll also have to deal with each other as the National Geographic write-up [nationalgeographic.com] about the adventure explains. They’ve had to swim, sometimes several times a day, through ice cold water to span the gaps of ice. (Don’t worry; they have special water-proof suits that keep them completely dry. But still!!! Can you imagine swimming in the frigid waters of the arctic…in the dark? Watch this video [ousland.no] of Børge Ousland, the first person to do this, and then imagine doing it at night.)

These two are no strangers to adventure. Mike Horn has trekked through the Amazon jungle, circumnavigated the globe along the equator and around the Arctic Circle. And he did it all alone! Børge Ousland has had his share of solo adventures, too. It’s only their extreme sense of responsibility to their wives and children that they decided they’d better use the buddy-system on this one. Ya’ think?

You can follow the daily adventure on two different blog sites. They both have satellite phones and they’re sending back daily journals that are published on their sites. Mike Horn’s version [mikehornnorthpole.com] includes some interesting statistics such as days into the journey, days left and number of days of food supply left.

Børge Ousland’s version has some very good, descriptive first-hand accounts and are logged on a daily basis. It’s not too late to get caught up and then follow their journey the rest of the way. I’m hoping they make it safely; there is still plenty of time for plenty of things to go wrong. When they make it it will be amazing! Absolutely nuts, but amazing!

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Man soll English lernen, es ist wichtig!

Filed under:Video — posted by Tyler on February 21, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

My boss sent me this funny video today. He knows I went on a mission to Germany, but I think this video is funny even if you don’t speak German. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

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Ortec Design Featured as “Fresh Idea”

Filed under:Cool Stuff, Video, Friends — posted by Tyler on @ 8:45 pm

My good friend John Orgill (owner of Ortec Design Wedding Videos [ortecdesign.com]) was feautured on KUTV News’ segment “Fresh Ideas” [kutv.com] today.  One of the reasons is because of his signature glass displays.  Funny thing is, he’s actually been doing the displays for at least two years now, if not longer.  So KUTV should’ve been doing this story at least a year ago!

John revamped his website and it looks great.  He’s done a great job of combining html and flash content.  I love his write-up in the new “About” section; it really does a good job of bringing out his fun personality.  It also shows off his cute family.  (Did I just say “cute”?)  He added a “Charity Package” to his pricing list which I think is a great idea.  It shows his innovation and thoughtfulness (although I’ll bet the credit goes to his wife on that one who is a real kindred spirit).  John has also done a great job of networking and gives great discounts for teaming up with photographers and florists that he likes to work with.  Good job, John!

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Added SIFR to Blog Today

Filed under:Web Log (Blog) — posted by Tyler on February 20, 2006 @ 11:21 pm

SIFR 2.0I was looking into adding sIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement) [mikeindustries.com] to my blog today and was just about to dive in (I’ve done it on other sites I’ve designed and it’s a bit of setup) when I decided to search the web for other WordPress blogs that may have already implemented it. Thanks goodness I checked! It saved me a ton of time when I found a plugin [chait.net, CG-FlashyTitles] for just that! Instead of two hours later, I had replacement headers for my story titles in less than 1/2 hour! I think they add to the look of the page. Hope you like them, too.

One thing I’m still trying to work out is a story title size issue. I can’t explain why some of the titles want to fill up the entire width of the div and others (like the title of this story) appear much smaller. I’m just replacing all h3 tags with the sIFR, so the titles aren’t tagged differently. Hmmm? I’ll be troubleshooting that during the next few days. I may need to make my default h3 font bigger so that it matches what I want my sIFR to be doing.

If you don’t know what sIFR is and you’re interested in web design, read up on it. It’s a great way of making your web content look a bit different from everyone else.

UPDATE: The original title was “Added SIFR to Blog” and the result was small text replacement (equivalent to around 12 size font).  I added “Today” to the title and the title expanded to the size I was interested in.  I guess I’ll have to be careful not to use short titles until I figure out a workaround.

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