Sir Stephen Magee on Why (and How) He Fundraises for Parkinson’s

Sir Stephen Magee - Davis Phinney Foundation

Written by Sir Stephen Magee


It hasn’t been a simple or easy path for me. I started fundraising as a youth for various sports teams and clubs. At that time, I had to go door to door and ask for money for whatever I was selling. I hated asking people for money, and I hated going door to door. My parents always made me do it, and they didn’t help in any way. Other kids’ parents would take their goods to the office and hit up co-workers for donations, my parents didn’t do that. It was all on me. I was terrible at fundraising, and the thought of going door to the door gave me anxiety. I always came in last for my team or club in funds raised.

But I always thought charity work was well worth the effort. The key was to find a cause I believed in, and then I could overcome my anxiety and ask for money.

Fast forward to 2014 when I learned of The Sufferfest and the Knighthood challenge. I found a local cause I could believe in and put on a hugely successful event. I raised over $20,000 for our local food bank. The key for me was:

#1 – This was a charity I could trust, and the work they did really made a difference in the lives of people in need.

#2 – I could make the story personal. I told people how hunger in our community affected them and me.

#3 – I made mistakes and learned from them, but I never stopped trying.

Through The Sufferfest, I learned about the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Tour of Sufferlandria. The first year I put in the minimum $10.00 and rode the stages. The next year I raised a bit more and got drawn into the community and all the “fun” that came from doing the event with others online.

The third year, things clicked for me, and I made a substantial effort to raise money for the Foundation. I know several family members and friends who live with Parkinson’s, and at work, I operate on patients helping to place deep brain stimulators; so, the cause is meaningful to me.

Success came because I used the same formula that had worked for me in the past: set a challenging goal, make the story personal, ask people for support, tell them why, and then ask them again.

Each year I have been able to surpass my goal. I also set aside money each month, so I will have a tidy sum to donate during the tour because part of the fun is donating to other riders. In the end, the Foundation wins.

I am very proud of my efforts finishing in the top five for the last four years of the TOS. But really, the credit goes to all the very generous people I know. Each year I get more and more people donating to the TOS. I do the leg work, and the money comes in. It’s amazing.

The TOS is an exhausting several week grind for me each year, but I believe in the mission of the Foundation, which makes it easy to work for the donations. I share a short video each day with my supporters that showcases me suffering on my bike as a way to thank them for their support. I always remind them of my goal and how important it is to me to help others when I have been so fortunate in my life.

Did I say I love a challenge? This year I raised over $10,000. That’s a big jump from the initial $10 I donated eight years ago. I am still brought to tears by the generosity of my friends and family members, and I am truly humbled that I can do some good for others.

Want to Exercise and Raise Money for Parkinson’s?

Join us for our brand new virtual fundraising event: The Every Victory Counts Challenge! During the month of July, raise money by moving for minutes or miles and help people with Parkinson’s live well today. Learn more and register here today.

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