Blast Interview with Leslie Laredo for Bowling for Breastcancer.org Event this Thursday the 20th at Lucky Strike in NYC

We were so delighted to interview our friend, colleague and fellow Internet Old Timer, Leslie Laredo, president of the Laredo Group, about her upcoming event, Bowling for Breast Cancer.

Blast: Leslie, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today. We are passionate about your event — Bowling for Breastcancer.org. Our own Lana McGilvray, principal, is on the committee, and a couple of Blasters, Matt Caldecutt and Kathleen Formidoni as well as some of our clients will be there ready to roll the strikes. Could you tell our readers a bit more about the personal history of the organization/event?

LL: As you know I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. This was of course a shock, as I had no history of breast cancer in my family. Along the path of dealing with this diagnosis, I came across Breastcancer.org, which was an important site for my (and my family’s) need to find out more and get my questions answered. As I was going through this awful ordeal, I reached out to my friends in the industry for support, as many have been directly or indirectly affected by this disease. Towards the end of my treatments, an industry colleague told me about a group working to organize a fundraising event for Breastcancer.org, and I volunteered to be a part of this group. I certainly felt passionate about the mission of Bowling for Breastcancer.org and believed my efforts would be part of “paying it forward”; determined to help others.
The organizing committee’s first bowl-a-thon was in 2010. We solicited friends and colleagues from the advertising and media communities as well as research, ad tech and marketing services companies to be sponsors. Our first event had 50 sponsors and over 500 attendees.

Blast: That’s quite a story. Our hearts go out to you, Leslie. We know you as a fighter. It is amazing how you’ve brought together the who’s who of media buyers, sellers and technologists to the event. Tell us a bit about how it has grown over the past few years. You have raised $1.8M (USD) in 5 years? Kudos! Tell us more about your goals this year…

LL: Well, actually, we raised $1.8M in 4 years. This year, our 5th fundraiser, will put our total to over 2 million dollars. (By the way, we are still accepting bowlers and spectators, so please make plans to attend). In addition, we have 15 of the most senior advertising executives and influencers participating in our “Lunches of a Lifetime” silent auction. This auction will run on Charity Navigator through March 27th. We have some of the original corporate sponsors still with us, including Nielsen, comScore and NBC. Over the last 4 years, more than 100 companies have sponsored the event.

While we are procuring media companies to support us with media placement, many people hear about the event through various other folks in the industry. We have relied a lot on word of mouth. If you speak to anyone that has attended in the past they are likely to tell you that Bowling for Breastcancer.org is one of the most fun events they have been to, and they really look forward to it.

This year we reached out to Pete Krainik, Founder and CEO of The CMO Club, and have coordinated with their NYC chapter. Many of the CMOs from this chapter will participate in the event. Aside from raising money for a great cause, our goal is for people to have fun and network.

Participants can bowl while spectators and friends offer support simply by attending and watching the action. We have tickets available for both groups up until the day of the event. There is an open bar and free food provided throughout the evening. And, because it is the first night of March Madness, we will have TV’s broadcasting the games. There are all sorts of fun activities, like basketball hoops, silent auction items, great people and (again) lots of networking!

Blast: That’s great, Leslie. Now, we know you introduced a new aspect to the event last year and you are planning for it to be even bigger this year. Tell us more about “Lunches of a Lifetime.”

LL: So, I was reading a story about Warren Buffet auctioning off dinners with himself for $3 million and I thought, let’s do that— but, with our industry luminaries. It worked so well last year that we decided to expand its reach and put it up on Charity Buzz this year. Winning bidders will get to have lunch with notables like Guy Kawasaki, bestselling author and former Chief Evangelist of Apple, and industry leaders like Carolyn Everson, Vice President, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook and Babs Rangaiah, Vice President, Global Media Ventures, Unilever. In fact, they were such good sports they not only agreed to do individual lunches, but a “double date” for us as well. There are too many good names to list here, so check it out on Charity BuzzBlast: That sounds great, Leslie. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

LL: I’m so thankful for your participation and for getting the word out. We are always looking for monetary donations, be it in-kind, corporate, auction items, sponsorships, etc., but the success of this event is largely due to donations of time and services from people like you. We can only do it with people power. I’d encourage you to reach out if you think you or your company can help in any way.

Blast: If people can’t come to the event but want to support, how can they?

LL: Donate! Help us reach out goal with your donation today!

Blast: We will certainly spread the word, Leslie, and we’re looking forward to being a part of the event for another year. We will see you this week. Thank you!

LL: Thank you. We are excited for the event and to see you Thursday!