Curious about what it’s like to participate in the Cleveland Big Wheel Relay? Here’s a recap from a first-timer in last year’s race – Amanda Thomas.

Last year, Amanda was new to Cleveland Big Wheel Relay and created her first team, CWRU (Case Western Reserve University) Blue. Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center’s (CHSC) services and mission is close to her heart as a few of her family members have suffered from hearing loss and speech impediments. She jumped on the opportunity to start a team after learning about this event through CHSC’s Development Director, Laura Frye because it was a great way to give back to the community.

107_23341014730_oAmanda tells us about her first experience putting together her team, from picking out costumes to how they exceeded their fundraising goal. (Take some notes, because each team has the chance to compete for the top fundraising prize!)

On picking team name and costumes: Once Amanda gathered her teammates, they needed to come up with a costume. “Picking out our costumes and team name was fun,” she said. “We went on a special shopping trip to find blue makeup. The costumes at the event were really impressive, from minions to Browns fans and more.” One thing Amanda said she wished they had done differently, “We probably should have chosen nicknames related to our team name.”

 On setting a fundraising goal: CWRU Blue had surpassed their fundraising goal of $400. Amanda stated, “Our families and co-workers were generous, and we ended up raising over $700! We were pleasantly surprised that we raised almost twice our goal, especially considering that we were new to fundraising. CHSC was helpful in providing tips on how to raise money.”


On fundraising tactics: Between the time that Amanda signed up her team and race day, her team went the extra mile to raise funds. They sent hand written letters to family and friends asking for donations and inviting them to attend the event to cheer them on. Three of the four members on CWRU Blue were immediate family members so they all signed their names on the letters with the recipient’s favorite family member signing first. They added a little twist, mentioning that they planned to dye their hair blue and promised to send them photos if the recipient donated money … a perfect bribing tool!

Following the race: With CHSC’s mission and cause close to her heart, Amanda said their team sent thank you notes to everyone who donated, complete with pictures from the event. “We included a flyer about the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center, in case they knew anyone who needed hearing or speech services.  Our family, friends, and co-workers loved the pictures and stories. Some of the pictures are now still displayed in their homes.”

Advice for new teams: Amanda has some advice for new teams planning to race this year. “Start raising money earlier rather than later.  Every dollar counts.  See if local businesses will sponsor your team. Ask others how they have raised money for their favorite causes. Have a brainstorming session over happy hour. Don’t be afraid to ask for money. You never know who is going to give or how much. You might be pleasantly surprised. This event provides an opportunity for people who are new to the area to connect to the community.”

Thanks to Amanda and the 31 other teams like CWRU Blue, we were able to raise over $26,000 for Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center last year! And, we intend to exceed that mark this year – but we need your help!


We welcome you to sign up for our 4th Annual Cleveland Big Wheel Relay by visiting www.clevelandbigwheelrelay.com. This year’s race will be held on Saturday, June 25 from 2-5 p.m. New location will be announced at the Happy Hour Kick-Off on Tuesday, April 19th at 6 p.m. For more information about our Happy Hour Kick-Off, check out our Facebook event.

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