FCA, United Way go the distance for community

United Way partner FCA hits the pavement to raise funds for the community through the Detroit Free Press Marathon.

Published Oct. 10, 2016: Story by Jerome Espy

In the early morning hours, Taylor Kachinski finds inspiration and satisfaction as she laces up her running shoes and hits the pavement to get her miles in for Team Jeep before heading to work at FCA. But it’s all worth it to the 23-year-old, who’s raising money for a cause she believes in.

An avid fitness enthusiast, Taylor will take part in her first half marathon during the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon event on Oct. 16.

“It’s tough some mornings, but the end result inspires me. Knowing that my efforts will help members of my community is all the motivation I need,” says Taylor, a Dealer Agreement Coordinator with the Dealer Network Development organization of FCA US.

Helping families

Team Jeep is raising funds for United Way for Southeastern Michigan through CrowdRise, alongside United Way’s own Run United campaign. The funds raised will support United Way’s Bib to Backpack program that helps families better prepare their children for the first day of school.

“I wanted to see if I could raise money for a good cause,” she said, adding that she was surprised that within the first day she raised $400 just by asking her colleagues up and down the aisle where she works. Within a week, she had raised a total of $600 from family and co-workers.

An avid fitness enthusiast, Taylor will take part in her first half marathon with Team Jeep during the Detroit Free Press/Taumer Bank Marathon.

An avid fitness enthusiast, Taylor will take part in her first half marathon during the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon.

Sarah Grutza has been raising funds for nonprofits for four years.

Sarah Grutza has been raising funds for nonprofits for four years.

To date, she has raised more than $2,000 — $1,000 of which was pledged after her boss got behind what she was doing and made an extra push.

Team Jeep: Meeting the challenge

From the C-suite to the production lines, FCA really has made Team Jeep a priority. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne got the ball rolling during his first United Way Campaign Cabinet meeting. He is the cabinet’s official fundraising chair for the next two years and has set a goal of $100 million.

At the cabinet meeting, he challenged the 30 other member companies to find a way to use the marathon to benefit United Way causes by getting their running clubs involved.

Barbara Pilarski, Vice President of Business Development for FCA US, was at that meeting and took on the task of organizing the FCA team.

She suggested that FCA kick things up a notch by challenging participating employees to raise $500 each and offering that the company pay their race registration fee.

Marchionne supported the idea and FCA was off and running.

FCA has 71 runners participating in Team Jeep, hoping to raise $37,500—a goal they’re close to reaching.

“I’m very proud of the team and what they have done,” Pilarski says. “Metro Detroit is our home and we all have to be a part of the solution.”

Going the distance

With Team Jeep leading the pack, the marathon fundraising effort has stretched beyond FCA. United Way staff and other supporters are also getting involved this race season.

Sarah Grutza, the Corporate Relations Director to FCA with United Way, is a seasoned marathoner. She decided to get together with co-workers to run on behalf of her company.

“Runners are generally a very generous group. Working with people that have a common goal of making a difference is rewarding and supports the overall mission of United Way,” she said.

Along with co-workers, she did a big push on social media and through emails to friends and family to raise funds.

The Run United team has set a goal of raising $10,000 this time around.

Driven by passion

Bohr Tsao, Manager in Business Development at FCA US, also has joined the team, and is running the 5K.

New to running and a father of two young children, Bohr is passionate about United Way’s Early Development work, which aims to prepare children for school.

“One in four families lives in poverty,” he explains. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the same solid foundation I can provide for my family. This is something I can do to support the entire community.

“Sometimes people are anxious about raising money, but the FCA leadership team was completely behind what we are doing and that made it easier.”

He encourages everyone to get involved, even if it’s only in a small way.

“As a company, we are providing a template for other companies to follow. It’s a recipe to do this for any sized company,” he says.

Working together, employees at the partnering companies make a powerful impact.

Kachinski says, “It’s amazing that something as simple as running can raise money and have such a huge impact.”

Editor’s Note: There’s still time to support the runners! Go to www.crowdrise.com/UWSEMichiganDET2016 to give to the Run United team and www.crowdrise.com/team-jeep to give to Team Jeep!

Other companies interested in starting a program should contact: Sarah.Grutza@LiveUnitedSEM.org