Each year, National Convenience Distributors’ proprietary brand, Island Coffee, sponsors the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island. In addition to their sponsorship, NCD’s marketing coordinator, Maggie Gioia, established a team to participate in the event, ultimately helping the company raise nearly $20,000!
“Island Coffee has been a sponsor of the Making Strides event for almost a decade. But when I heard that past attempts to put a team together to walk and fundraise never really got any legs, I was determined to change that,” said Gioia. “Not only is it a great way for coworkers to team build, but it is also an incredible opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.”
“I served as a team leader for Relay for Life, which is another ACS event. That year, my team won the most funds raised, and the following year, I served as the keynote speaker that kicked off the event. As a result, I was excited to utilize my knowledge from the past to make this fundraiser even better.”
With donations from employees across NCD’s four divisions, a company match, as well as Gioia’s family who also registered to walk, the team was able to raise a substantial amount of funds.
“My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer this past year, and I was really motivated to support her and to get my family involved too,” said Gioia. “Luckily, the ACS extends an invitation to all. Once a team is formed, friends and family of team members are welcome to join.”
While this policy applies to all ACS events, the Jones Beach Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is the largest Making Strides in the country. This year, the Sunday, Oct. 16 event retained that title, garnering over 65,000 walkers and raising roughly $2.2 million.
Likewise, this year’s event broke records for NCD’s Island Coffee booth. After running out of donuts and bagels and serving over 1,000 cups of coffee, Island Coffee contributed almost $2,000 to the Making Strides event.
Manning the Island Coffee booth and creating customer connections were Maddie Del Plato, an NCD Tri-State Division customer service representative and breast cancer survivor; Susan Farina, NCD Tri-State Division’s director of human resources; Marty Glick, NCD’s executive vice president of divisional sales, along with his wife Robin; and Dennis Williams, NCD’s executive vice president of purchasing, along with his wife Celia.
“I am so proud to be a part of our NCD team. Our Making Strides booth raises funds for the research and programs of the ACS while providing hot beverages and breakfast items to the great people in the walk,” Del Plato shared. “A future without cancer would be a magnificent thing. As a survivor, I am full of hope when I see that so many people care. I especially love seeing the young people who are walking to make a difference for the future.”
“It’s a very humbling and rewarding experience to work with the ACS. I look forward to it every year,” Glick added. “We feed off the energy from the participants. Even though they can get free coffee, bagels and donuts from other booths, they still come to ours because all proceeds are an added donation to the ACS. It’s that positive energy that makes the difference. We have also built such strong relationships with the walkers that return every year, so we count on having special reunions with these familiar faces.”
Representing NCD on the four-mile boardwalk was Gioia and family, as well as Stacey Mazzella, NCD’s senior director of marketing, and family.
“It’s an honor to know these efforts are touching the lives of cancer patients and caregivers. The ACS funds the research, travel, lodging, support system and educational resources that give these individuals the gift of time,” Gioia said.
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States, with 290,000 men and women diagnosed in 2022. But according to Gioia, it doesn’t have to be that way.
“One of the most important takeaways for me, and I hope for others too, is that even the smallest efforts over time can add up to something special. For instance, skipping your $10 Starbucks, and instead donating that money, can put free cancer education into the hands of those that need it. It’s quick and easy, but its impact is profound,” said Gioia.
“The ACS is an organization that I hold very close to my heart since many close members of my family have been affected by cancer,” Gioia said. “Because of what my family has endured, I have always been committed to involvement in the ACS. Being close to cancer gives you a deeper appreciation for life. It certainly gives you strength, but it teaches you more about giving time to the things that truly matter.”