In the era of COVID-19, one company has found a creative way to raise money for relief efforts to aid individuals and families affected by the virus.
As Bristol Meyers Squibb (BMS) employees, their families and invited patients participate in BMS for Community, an inaugural event organized by the company, they will track their time spent in activities such as walking, running, swimming and cycling or time spent volunteering during a four-day period.
For each minute counted from Oct. 1-4, BMS will donate $1 per minute with a goal of reaching 1 million minutes resulting in a $1 million donation for the American Red Cross (ARC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“This is our first ever global charity event. We have 30,000 employees worldwide and we are hopeful everyone will take part and their families,” said Adam Lenkowsky, senior vice president and co-head of U.S. Commercialization for BMS. “We have also invited several hundred patients to take part in this. The goal for BMS for Community is to move for minutes.”
The money donated will be spread equally between the Red Cross and the IFRC. This four-day global virtual event arose after BMS had to postpone its cyclist rides in 2020 called Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer, Country 2 Country 4 Cancer in Europe and Continent 2 Continent 4 Cancer in Japan, due to COVID-19. The cycling relays raise funds for cancer research.
Lenkowsky stated that cycling rides such as Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer have become the cultural fabric for the organization.
“Unfortunately in the May timeframe, we observed and ultimately postponed all three rides for the safety of our employees, patients and communities we serve. But we did not want to postpone without eventually having some way that our employees could give back,” he said. “Now everyone can participate globally as BMS for Community is also the conclusion of our Global Patient Week.”
Global Patient Week referenced by Lenkowsky is designed to connect BMS employees with the patients they have served, who have overcome diseases or continue to fight them, according to the company.
“We thought BMS for Community was just a great fit to end our week-long celebration. This is the first time we have tried this globally that could have every employee participate,” he said.
Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer, Country 2 Country 4 Cancer and Continent 2 Continent 4 Cancer will be back in 2021 for BMS, so too may be BMS for Community.
“If this is a successful event, which I am confident it will be, I do think that it is something that can unite all our employees around the world and we would continue to do,” he said. “I am hopeful that each employee of BMS takes an opportunity to participate in one of those four days. If they do that I am very confident that we will be able to raise the $1 million to the Red Cross.”
When employees track the minutes moved in the activities they participate in such as cycling, as well as individuals who choose instead to volunteer, there will be an honor system applied for the minutes submitted by those who participate.
“But what we will be doing is we are going to be sending out to all of our employees and patients a tracker that they will be able to utilize online,” Lenkowsky said. “The information will be sent back in to the central organization and track the activity that they are doing, who contributed (how many family members were with them) and how many minutes did that include.”
Lenkowsky, of Lawrenceville, joined his executive colleagues and other BMS employees located in the Princeton area in participating in the four-day event and planned on cycling as his activity.
“I had not been on a bike in 30 years before coast to coast happened; cycling has really become really a hobby and passion of mine,” he said. “I will be cycling all through Princeton, Lawrenceville, Pennington, and the Sourlands. I plan to do that with a number of our employees over the weekend as well as with my family.”
For Lenkowsky, BMS for Community will not just be a family affair company-wide.
“I’ve got two boys, one who is 16 and one who is 14, to get them out and help them understand what they are riding for or helping participate in, I think is wonderful,” he said. “My personal goal is to cycle every single day of the four days. Probably an hour during the weekday and two hours each day on the weekend.”
Lenkowsky added that his hope for BMS for Community is that the event showcases how people can come together to unite for one cause.