Hy-Vee employees raised $1.3 million in the company’s annual fundraising campaign for juvenile diabetes research.
Seventy Hy-Vee stores raised $5,000 or more, said Craig Clasen, director of sales and promotions. The overall total represents a 13 percent increase over 2010-11.
“The efforts of this year’s campaign show what Hy-Vee employees can do as individuals, what we can do as stores and what we can do as an entire company,” Clasen says.
The money goes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which since 1970 has given more than $1.6 billion to doctors and scientists working to cure for Type 1 diabetes. More than 80 cents of every dollar donated to JDRF directly supports research and education.
Store Director Brent Yager and his Albia crew once again set the pace with $45,975, edging the Grand Island store by $480 for top honors.
The Albia store’s success —$457,000 in nine years in a town of 4,500 people—is a result of communitywide dedication to the cause, Yager says.
“We don’t really have the one or two big donors we can always count on,” he says. “But almost everyone contributes, whether that means donating a painting or a carving to our auction or donating time or money to the effort. The fundraiser and auction have become an important event in our community.”
It’s become an event in Grand Island as well, says Ken Pedersen, manager of store operations. “There is a group of people in our community who have personally been touched by juvenile diabetes. Either they grew up with it or they know someone who has it,” he says.
Each year, Grand Islanders come together for the store’s Big Grape wine-tasting event, which raised nearly $35,000 this year.
“So many people come together for this, and it’s just so awesome that we get to be a part of it,” Pedersen says.
In recent years, Hy-Vee has sent a team of riders to participate in a JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes as part of it’s the campaign. Clasen, who pedaled the 100-mile route in La Crosse, WI, last August, says “The Hill” almost sidelined him about 50 miles into the ride.
“There were kids all over the place, cheering us on, screaming, ‘You’re almost there!’ And I said to myself, ‘Surely I can climb this hill when these kids can wake up every day and give themselves shots,’” Clasen says. “I made it to the top, and of course they were lying, the ride wasn’t over. But that moment helped me realize how important this cause is.”
Pictured: CEO Randy Edeker, left, presents Albia store director, Brent Yager with the plaque recognizing Albia's fundraising efforts.