Lending a Hand to the Arthritis Foundation

News | December 04, 2017

Jaleesa Jones
Social Media Coordinator

Alpha Omicron Pi’s mission has always been to inspire ambition, and when AOII sister (and ACE Admissions Coordinator) Kate Sureck was tapped to support the Arthritis Foundation, the sorority’s national philanthropy, she was inspired–particularly by the foundation’s annual charity brunch.

“Traditionally, it was just a brunch that alums went to, and it was kind of to the point where they were raising $500 to $800 for it and it just wasn’t progressing,” she explained. “I knew it could be a much bigger event.”

In her first year as chairwoman of the event, Kate did make it bigger–much bigger.

Using her “civic time,” a separate bank of PTO hours for employees to put toward meaningful volunteer efforts, she upgraded the brunch to an evening bash, complete with brimming cocktails, savory hors d'oeuvres, and a silent auction.

At $40 a ticket, the April 2017 event attracted more than 100 guests and raised a little more than $5,000 as guests mixed and mingled at McCormick & Schmick’s in downtown Indianapolis.

Ashley Craig, the executive director at the foundation’s Indianapolis office, explained: “Kate was incredible at securing sponsorships that covered the cost of the event [and] allowed the proceeds of the event to go directly to the Arthritis Foundation’s JA [juvenile arthritis] Warriors Family Camp held in October.”

But just how did the ACE staffer pull it off?

“I don’t really have a great story besides I was kind of thrown to the wolves and decided to do something really big and then didn’t want to fail at it,” Kate joked.

“I formulated a letter on an AOII letterhead asking for donations, you know, telling my donors what it was going toward. Ashley also wrote a letter, and I basically was sending them to any business I could think of. Like, I was driving down the road and I would see a bakery or something that I had never seen before, and I would make a note and I just started blasting requests to people.”

And her humble requests resonated.

Kate Sureck

“We were really lucky,” she said. “We had the Indianapolis Colts donate. We had some Adam Vinatieri-autographed items. Adam actually is a very big supporter of the Arthritis Foundation, so that was really awesome that we were able to get that. We had a lot of individual donors–yoga studios around the city, Purdue University, Indiana University, Indy Eleven [soccer club], the Pacers, the Indiana Fever, the Andretti Autosport group was awesome. They actually donated the autographs of their entire team, which included the 2017 Indy 500 winner [Takuma Sato], and [IndyCar racer] Marco Andretti signed...a hat and a pit crew shirt that was worn during one of his races. Just all kinds of awesome stuff. I was just so, so impressed with the businesses of Indianapolis and their generosity.”

That includes ACE, which provided marketing and sponsorship to cover the cost of customized truffles as a parting gift to guests. Roughly 10-15 ACE employees were also present to support their colleague.

“The atmosphere was so lively,” Ashley said. “The program was less formal, the attendance was higher than in previous years, and all of the attendees were raving about the great time they were having.”

“For the most part, it went as smoothly as it could have,” Kate added. “I expected some hiccups, but we had some great volunteers so I was really kind of able to be there and oversee everything and not worry about the little details. It was just a really fun evening [and] we had a lot of bidding wars.”

Kate has already begun planning for April 2018. Next year’s affair will take place at The District Tap on Indianapolis’ north side, and Ashley anticipates the silent auction will be bigger and better.

“Kate has put so much of her heart and soul into the success of the event,” she said, “and I am so grateful for the support for the Arthritis Foundation and our juvenile arthritis programs.”

For individuals who’d like to get involved in or support the foundation, Kate recommends reaching out to her personally at Kate.Sureck@ace.edu. “If they want to volunteer, I can absolutely find something for them to do,” she said. “If they want to buy a ticket, I would love that as well. If they want to buy 100 tickets, that would be even better!”