Second NY Real Estate Games Triples Fundraising Total For JDRF
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After its inaugural edition raised about $80K last year, the JDRF Real Estate Games — an Olympics-style gathering of commercial real estate firms competing in athletic and semi-athletic events to raise money for juvenile diabetes research — took a major leap forward in 2017.
The games were held June 15 at Chelsea Piers, and about three dozen commercial real estate firms participated, both through the events and by fundraising to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Although the spirit of competition was in the air, ultimately the cause united the groups.
"The real estate community in New York City is probably the most philanthropic sector within the city," REBNY Executive Vice President Jim Whelan said. Whelan sits on JDRF's board and was key in bringing the games, which started in Washington, D.C., a quarter-century ago, to New York. "It’s not surprising they would jump at the opportunity to get involved, and there’s healthy competition. You put those two things together, it’s a marriage made in heaven."
Among the competitions: speed cup-stacking, basketball shoot-outs, dodgeball, rock climbing races and a relay race. Eastdil Secured's team won the tournament, and Glenwood Management raised the most money, followed by SL Green, Brookfield and TF Cornerstone.
The cause is a personal one for Whelan, whose teenage son has Type 1 diabetes. He said the games nearly fell on the fourth anniversary of the diagnosis, for the disease that affects more than a million Americans and more than 200,000 youth in the U.S.
The diagnosis "was a bit of a bombshell for us. It impacts [my son's] life on a daily basis, and it impacts the lives about those around him," Whelan said. "What’s been great about getting involved with JDRF is getting up to date on all the progress. I would hope, in my son’s lifetime, to find a cure for the disease. I think that’s a really important possibility."
This year, the event was bigger, better marketed and nearly tripled the initial year's fundraising goal. D.C.'s games, founded by Savills Studley executive Adam Singer, raised a record $525K in its 28th year, and the industry takes over American University's athletic facilities to hold the event. Clearly, the potential to grow in New York is enormous.
"Last year was an experiment in a sense, and it was an experiment that went well," Whelan said. "We looked to be more proactive about getting the word out about the opportunity. Chelsea Piers is a great facility, it can accommodate even more teams."