Run United Celebrates Another Successful Year with Team Jeep Leading the Way

Published on October 27, 2021 in , ,

Dorothy Leverette kicked off the Run United Virtual Marathon on Sept. 15 by taking a few steps off her front porch, followed by a light jog.  And yet, for Dorothy, who works as a corp. supplier table lead for Stellantis North America North America (formerly FCA), the race of her life began more than a year earlier.

What started with her gums bleeding uncontrollably in April 2020 would end with a life-altering, same-day diagnosis: leukemia.

Doctors told Dorothy she would need to remain in the hospital for 21 days of chemotherapy. Determined to return home to her husband and children when it was over, Dorothy turned to the doctor and said, “Let’s do this. Let’s start this race.”  

Chemotherapy was grueling but Dorothy remained positive. In fact, during her initial hospital stay, she thought little about herself. Instead, she committed to giving back to others.  

“Being diagnosed with cancer made me revisit every aspect of life,” she said. “You realize how fortunate you’ve been, and it makes you start to think about how you can help those who don’t have the same opportunities you have.”   

Once her treatments were completed, Dorothy looked to rebuild her health while building her community. United Way’s Run United, which supports children and families in Southeastern Michigan, provided the perfect opportunity to accomplish both.  

As of Oct. 19, this year’s marathon raised more than $185,000. The funds will help close the digital divide, support United Way’s My Home Library program, and provide additional items like backpacks, graphing calculators and personal protective equipment to thousands of local students.   

 Dorothy Leverette poses in front of a Jeep

Dorothy Leverette, Team Jeep

Team Jeepleads the way 

Since 2016, Run United teams have typically participated in the Detroit Free Press Marathon each fall. In 2020, United Way and Stellantis collaborated to create a virtual marathon.  

As a part of the virtual marathon, each Run United participant was asked to log at least 25 miles over the course of a month, before completing the final 1.2 miles together in a virtual race on Oct. 17.  

With more than $110,000 raised and 234 participants, Stellantis’ Team Jeep continued to excel in its longtime role as a key supporter and sponsor of Run United. Since 2016, Team Jeep has raised more than $500,000 for local families. 

“Team Jeep is truly the backbone of the Run United effort,” said Audrey Walker, corporate relations director at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “Year after year – whether in person or virtual – they continue to be an inspiration to other teams and individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of children.”  

David C. Dowty, head of Free2Move North America at Stellantis and a leader on Team Jeep, said his annual participation is inspired by his two young children at home as well as children across the region. 

“You look at your children, and you understand the privileges and the access to technology they have, and it’s reasonable to want to extend that same privilege to others,” David said.  

Dorothy is similarly motivated to close the digital divide.  

“Digital equity means that every Michigan student would have the technologies, tools and skills needed to access affordable high-speed internet anywhere, anytime,” she said. “This digital divide disproportionately impacts students of color and those from low-wage families. I am a woman of color and want to contribute to closing the gap.” 

Runners display medals

David Dowty and other members of Team Jeep celebrate another successful year.

A mile and a mission 

The virtual race format grew from last year’s need to social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the determination of Team Jeep to respond to the accelerating need in the community. 

“The virtual format opened the race up to so many more people, creating more inclusion and equity. That’s what we all want,” David said.  

Untethered by a single event or even a single region, the 2021 Run United Virtual Marathon expanded to include participants and their supporters in 38 states and five countries — from as far away as Poland.  

Here at home, teams from Bosch, IHS Markit, Ford Motor Co., Tenneco and many more got creative including family members, pets and friends in their race to the virtual finish line. More than 50 United Way for Southeastern Michigan staff members also participated.  

Richard Glover, sales director at IHS Markit and a member of United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Emerging Philanthropists, got involved with Run United three years ago. He logged his miles during morning jogs and between meetings. 

“It’s a win-win. It gets me outside of my four walls. It’s a stress reliever, and it allows me to help others,” Richard said. “I don’t often feel like I can effect a lot of change on my own, but when working with United Way – an organization that I trust – I can have a bigger impact.”  

Opportunity ahead 

This year’s top fundraiser was Michael Brieda, a member of Team Jeep who has participated in Run United for several years. He won a 16-ticket suite at Keyworth Stadium to see the Detroit City FC take on the California United Strikers FC.   

Already looking ahead to next year’s race, Team Jeep is excited to share its winning playbook with other organizations. 

“We’ve had a lot of success using the three C’s: communicate, coordinate and celebrate,” David said. 

“I’m so proud of our team for all that they’ve done,” he added. “The more we can get others involved, the more we can do for the community.” 

 Fundraising remains open through Nov. 1. To support Run United participants, visit  Run United Virtual Marathon.