At CFC Kickoff, Shriver Asks NIH to ‘Show Some Love’
The spirit of charity was in the air on Sept. 27 as NIH celebrated the start of the annual Combined Federal Campaign with a rally in front of Bldg. 1. NINDS, lead institute for this year’s effort, planned the event to encourage NIH employees to embrace the theme, “Show Some Love.”
More than 400 attendees gathered in unseasonable heat to learn more about some of the charities that benefit from the campaign, sample treats from local food trucks and hear from guest speaker Dr. Timothy Shriver.
Shriver, who leads the international board of directors of Special Olympics, challenged the crowd: “What would it look like if our country, right now, chose the theme of show some love? What’s more important, right now, than figuring out how to marshal our strongest energies to build stronger connections, stronger communal strength, stronger love?”
NINDS director Dr. Walter Koroshetz explained that contributors to the CFC can donate any amount and may choose from more than 10,000 charities. NIH employees can easily donate to the campaign by visiting cfc.nih.gov.
“It is our call to action, inspiring each of us to support the causes and organizations we care most passionately about,” Koroshetz said.
Shriver introduced three Special Olympians who are NIH employees: Meredith Beck, an office automation clerk, and Eli Lewis and Gabby Nugent, both supply clerks. All three spoke about the importance of the organization.
“Special Olympics is one of my favorite things,” said Lewis with a smile. Nugent mentioned looking forward to an upcoming tennis tournament in Baltimore; Beck recalled a favorite memory when her swim team won a gold medal.
One of the organizations supported by CFC contributions is SEEC (Seeking Equality, Empowerment, and Community), dedicated to supporting people with developmental disabilities in Montgomery County. NIH partners with SEEC to offer internships for its successful transition program, Project SEARCH; Beck, Lewis and Nugent are graduates.
Project SEARCH Program Director Steve Blanks said he wishes everyone who gives during the CFC could understand the value of their contribution—Project SEARCH interns are given the chance to prove they are capable individuals and an integral part of their community. “Anyone here at NIH can provide that opportunity,” he noted.
Twenty-eight charities attended the kickoff, including several that support the mission of NINDS to reduce neurological disorders. Representatives from the Epilepsy Foundation, the ALS Association, the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area and the Stroke Comeback Center were on hand to explain to employees how donations can help such organizations.
“Our goal today is to spread awareness,” said Matt Salomon, community outreach coordinator of the ALS Association. He said contributions directly fund clinical care services for individuals with ALS as well as research, which he hopes will result in an effective therapy for the debilitating disorder.
Koroshetz said coordinators and keyworkers from each of the institutes and centers will work hard to ensure NIH meets or exceeds its fundraising goal of $2.2 million. New this year was having coordinators represent each institute at designated tables. Coordinator enthusiasm for the CFC was apparent in their bright clothing, whimsical décor and treats.
Center for Scientific Review coordinator Beverly Cleveland is an extramural support assistant and a breast cancer survivor. She and her family received resources from organizations funded in part by CFC contributions when they needed it most. She hopes her story will inspire others to give.
“You just don’t know how close to home your help gets,” Cleveland said.
The event was brought to a conclusion by James Garcia, a Project SEARCH graduate who works in the Office of the Director, as he sang the classic What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. Raucous applause and a standing ovation indicated what event organizers hoped to be true: NIH is ready to show some love.