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Janet Balis Headshot

Cycle for Survival on #GivingTuesday

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One of my most fulfilling experiences since rejoining AOL in October 2011 was seeing the company's genuine commitment to having impact and supporting important causes. I joined a company with fundamentally different values than when I had left it in 2007 -- a company that talked about "we are in the business of helping people" and a company that said, "we say what we mean and do what we say." But those values, expressed to me as a new member of the AOL team meant very little until I saw it in action -- when I asked the company to stand behind me and Cycle for Survival.

Only months into my new role at AOL heading up Sales Strategy, I was still meeting people and getting to know new faces, but I invited my new colleagues to join me in raising money for cancer research. I had been involved with Cycle for Survival since its first year, when my dear friend Jennifer Goodman Linn founded the charity with her husband Dave. I was there from the very first time we gathered a handful of friends and proudly raised $250K in an Equinox cycling studio here in NY, so I marveled at the courage and genius of my friend as she continued to take it to new levels. In the years that followed, Jen grew Cycle to become one of the fastest growing non-profits in the country, raising over $18M for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

I wanted to introduce this important cause to my new home at AOL. The response was overwhelming and very touching, particularly in the year which would be our first time ever cycling without Jen, who lost her battle with a rare cancer called Sarcoma in July 2011. In that emotional moment, I suddenly felt like I was very much part of a team. The corporate cause team sprung into action to spread the word. An AOL sales executive decided that he not only wanted to start a team in Detroit, but that he would do it as a satellite experience since there was not even an Equinox location there for the spinning class. Across the company, I marveled as people sprung into action -- this truly was a place that did what it said.

The end result was remarkable -- our AOL team raised over $54K becoming a top corporate team, raising money that went straight to Memorial Sloan Kettering, a leading research hospital impacting cancer science across the country. And I saw the impact first-hand when I watched a laboratory open at the hospital this past fall, named for Jen, using funds from Cycle and tying research directly to patient beds in the same facility. This was not theoretical impact -- it was real impact, meaningful impact.

But knowing what we can do as an organization, we are emboldened to do even more this year. Our goal as a national team is to double our impact and raise $100K as a team, named "AOL+HuffPost: Cycle for Impact." Impact is at the core of both of these amazing brands in our company of great brands; cause is a fundamental imperative for us.

To meet and exceed our new goal for 2013, we'll need all hands on deck as events happen in February and March all across the country. On this #Givingtuesday, if you want to join or contribute to our team, please go to www.cycleforsurvival.org. On the site, you can search the team list to find our "AOL+HuffPost: Cycle for Impact" teams all across the country. No athletic ability is required if you want to participate (but we can't promise you won't leave addicted to spinning).