Although this year’s CEO Soak may look different than the typical lunch-time spectacle that brings Pittsburgh CEOs and top executives to the PPG Fountains, the event will still take place on August 20, 2020. Founder, Mike Daniels is excited to see participants continue to raise funds and awareness for those currently living with ALS in western Pennsylvania.
Mike Daniels, (former Executive Vice President of Office Leasing and Brokerage at Oxford Development Company) answered a few questions about what this year’s CEO Soak means for the western Pennsylvania ALS Community.
Q: This year will be the 4th Annual CEO Soak event. Where did your idea for the CEO Soak come from?
A: I was sitting in PPG Plaza one hot afternoon watching the fountains and saw a few businessmen in suits. I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t they love to run through the fountain today like a kid?” This is when it hit me that this might be a good fundraiser. It was a “grown up” ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Q: What is your personal connection with ALS?
A: My sister Lola lived with ALS from 2009-2011 in a small Wisconsin town. I often visited her and realized that the services and support systems where she lived are more challenging than they are in a major city. This, coupled with my experiences as a caregiver for my son Patrick, who lived with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and passed away in 2009, made me dedicated to help in any way that I could. My wife Margaret and I started a fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation in Patrick’s name and decided that one of the beneficiaries of that fund would be The ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter, to honor my sister and support programs for individuals living with ALS and their caregivers.
Q: Why do you think that the CEO Soak event is important both for the ALS community and the Greater Pittsburgh business community?
A: As more than 68% of the dollars required to provide and maintain ALS clinics, home modifications, adaptive technology, and respite care for ALS patients and the families come directly from fundraising events, these funds exist as the lifeline to the ALS community. In establishing the ALS CEO Soak, I hoped and anticipated that the event would become a vehicle in which all aspects of the business community would have an opportunity to contribute and support the ALS community in a “fun way”. Who wouldn’t like the opportunity to see their boss or co-worker get soaked while at the same time helping people living with ALS?
Q: Why should a CEO or high-level executive participate in this event?
A: It’s a fun way to make a difference, and develop a company collaborative team effort. In addition, participating in an event like this instills within executives and employees alike a sense of pride, accomplishment, and knowledge that you are able to assist those in need.
Q: How has this year’s event been altered to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: As we all cope with the effects of COVID-19 and the changes in our lives, we realized that the challenges faced globally today are ones that those living with ALS know all too well. Their needs remain, even amidst a global pandemic. So, it was determined that the support the ALS CEO Soak provides needed to remain as well.
Although we are not having a program or a large gathering of supporters in the PPG Plaza this year, we have given each “soakee” the option of either self-soaking at their home, local fire station, workplace, etc. or participating in a socially distant soak at the PPG Fountains. All in attendance will be required to practice social distancing, wear face masks, and follow all CDC guidelines. In addition, we have planned to record each individual soakee in the fountain so they will be able to share their experience with family, friends, fellow associates, and supporters post-event.
Q: When you look to the future of the CEO Soak event, what is your vision?
A: In times like this, it’s hard to think past the present moment. All of us have been working extremely hard to make sure that the August 20th event date will be as successful as possible. However, with that being said, next year will be the event’s 5th year anniversary. My goal for that year, and subsequent years thereafter, is to increase our participation level each year until each water sprout at PPG Plaza has a dedicated “soakee” standing on top of it (that would be 125 participants!). If we can achieve that, our efforts here will greatly impact the ALS community in western Pennsylvania.
In addition, the national chapter of The ALS Association has decided to adopt the ALS CEO Soak event that started right here in Pittsburgh. Now, all 39 chapters across the country will have the tools (and support from us here in Pittsburgh), to incorporate the event into their own fundraising programs. Having the ALS CEO Soak as a nationwide event means that we are able to help more people living with ALS than ever before.
Q: Due to COVID-19, we won’t have the usual crowd of spectators. How can the general Pittsburgh community get involved with the CEO Soak instead?
A: Although we are disappointed that there will not be our usual crowd of spectators gathered around the fountains this year, our cause remains the same and every dollar counts for those with this devastating disease.
We call upon the greater Pittsburgh community to take a moment out of their day to visit the CEO Soak website and make a donation. Donate to a company team, donate to a participant, or make a general donation. When you’re finished with that, forward the information to a family member or friend and have them support your effort as well. Those living with ALS in western Pennsylvania will greatly appreciate your support.
Special thanks to our current Top 10 Fundraisers! (recorded on 8/3/2020)