Bess Cohn Humanitarian Award Nominee - Biking for Charity Dollars
Distributor Raises Thousands Through Various Charitable Efforts
From the seat of his bicycle, Hank Frisch has explored the back trails of Cleveland, maneuvered the winding hills of Lake Tahoe and conquered the Alp d'Huez climbs of Tour de France fame. He has also, from the same seat, raised thousands of dollars to benefit leukemia and lymphoma patients, adding to his already long list of philanthropic efforts.
As president of Cleveland-based distributor Team Promotions (asi/342465), Frisch says that he would feel ungrateful if he didn't do something to repay the community that's been so good to him. "Giving back is what it's all about," he says. "I've been very fortunate in this industry, and I have a personal belief that it's my responsibility to help people."
True to his word, when Frisch was approached by a woman who had survived cancer about raising $5,000 to participate in a charity bike race around Lake Tahoe, his answer was a very quick "yes." The woman's story and the race, which was held for the benefit of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), struck a chord with Frisch. "My own mother passed away from cancer when I was 13," he says. "The woman who asked me to get involved has a young son, and in many ways her story mirrored the events of my childhood. We really connected, and the race seemed like a wonderful thing to do."
The 100-mile race around the lake is part of the LLS's Team In Training program, which is the world's largest sports charity organization, having raised $1.2 billion to date for blood cancer research. But beyond the numbers, the scenic bike tour is a way for people who have been affected by cancer to use their love of cycling to enrich the lives of others. "Biking is really a part of my life, something I'm passionate about," says Frisch. "Growing up in Cleveland, my bike was one of my first forms of freedom, and even now cycling is a way to reconnect with my childhood. Being at the race and meeting so many amazing cancer survivors ended up being an incredible experience."
Frisch's passion and penchant for philanthropy, however, also extend outside the cycling sphere and into some quirkier mediums. He, along with Mike Burns of supplier Quikey Manufacturing (asi/80210), sponsored the three-year run of the Battle of the Giant Promotional Products. The race consisted of Frisch and Burns running more than 40 flights of stairs up Cleveland's Terminal Tower while carrying, respectively, a six-foot pencil and a four-foot coin purse. In 2008, Frisch also put together the Cleveland Business Run for the benefit of the American Diabetes Association.
Currently, Frisch has his sights set on helping the children of Cleveland. While serving as the president of the Ohio Promotional Products Association, Frisch partnered with the city to make extra industry samples available to Cleveland's kids, and says that the goods are used in underprivileged areas like Glenville as incentive in the schools' rewards closets.
This year, he hoped to get Cleveland native LeBron James on board for a charity bike ride in the hopes of raising money to donate bicycles to the city's children. And while attempts to contact the former Cavaliers superstar went unanswered, Frisch is optimistic about revamping the effort next year.
"LeBron already gives bikes to kids in Akron," says Frisch, "and I see this as an opportunity for me to play peacemaker and for him to reach out to Cleveland as well."