North Carolina company rallies around local man

Author: Sarah Wise
Published On: 02/18/2017

Employees at Advanced Appliance Service, Inc in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, have one goal each May: supporting Chris Dezern.

Dezern, whose family founded Advanced Appliance in 1967, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis at age 13.

“As his primary caretaker, I'm always looking for ways to improve his quality of life,” said Laura Cooper, Dezern’s sister. “I was looking around online one day I found the NF Network and started reading about the awareness month and all of the fundraising opportunities. That's when I got the idea to start a fundraiser at our family business.”

The suggestion was a no-brainer.

“Everyone at our business knows and loves Chris because we always try to include him in our company events,” Cooper said. “He enjoys coming by the office sometimes to help with odd jobs like shredding or sweeping, so everyone was excited at the opportunity to do this in his honor.”
The company hosted several events throughout the month to keep NF on everyone’s mind.

“Our first event was an office Bounce-A-Thon, where everyone in the office took turns bouncing on a big exercise ball for a day,” Cooper said. “You had to pay a certain amount to send it to someone else when you got tired, and you had to pay a penalty if you were caught not bouncing.”

On Brown Bag Lunch Day, employees donated the money they would have spent eating out and packed a lunch instead. The company also donated vending machine proceeds to the NF Network and kept a collection jar at our front counter.

Several events raised awareness in addition to funds.

“We also did a company Bowl-A-Thon where we all went to the local bowling alley and anyone who bowled had to have a sponsor,” Cooper said. “Your sponsor would pledge to pay a certain amount of money per pin that you knocked down in your game. We had T-shirts made about NF and we all wore them that night so everyone at the bowling alley would know what we were doing. We even had people at the bowling alley want to make donations and find out more about the disease.”

On Camo Day, Dress Down Day, and Wear Green Day, employees were able to educate others about the neurofibromatosis.

“We gave our technicians stickers to wear and information papers to hand out that explained to customers what they were doing, and we actually had several customers donate as well,” Cooper said. “It was really great because we were able to not only get the employees involved, but also their families and friends with some of the events.”

Over 90 percent of the employees participated.

“Our employees had a blast with these activities,” Cooper said. “We made it a contest and the employee who raised the most money would win extra vacation days. We look forward to doing this again next year!”

At the end of the month, the employees raised more than $3,000.

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