When Drake Lloyd, Eta Psi (Central Florida), successfully completed Gear Up Florida in 2021, he was left wanting more, sharing, “I had the time of my life. The only bad part about the trip was that it ended so quickly.” He knew that if he could make the time, one day he wanted to do Journey of Hope, the longer cycling trip across the United States. He wasn’t sure when the right time would come to ask those around him for donations yet again after feeling like he had already asked so much of them.
In talking to his internship supervisor at Allstate about potentially doing the trip, he was not only cleared to take the time off, but encouraged by his supervisor to let him know if he needed any help with his endeavors in fundraising or preparing for the trip. Drake signed up for the 2023 Journey of Hope Team and began what would be almost a year of fundraising and training efforts. Around this same time, his supervisor informed him of a potential opportunity to apply for a grant from The Allstate Foundation. The Allstate Foundation supports the causes that Allstate agency owners, financial specialists and employees care about most by providing Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grants to nonprofits where they volunteer their time to help communities thrive. As an Allstate finance intern, Drake was able to share his passion for The Ability Experience with some of his coworkers, empowering them to volunteer with him for the organization.
A few months after his initial conversation with his supervisor, the application for Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grants became available. After a day of service spent at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida, volunteering on behalf of Allstate, Drake received a $500 grant for The Ability Experience. His supervisor, who had been extremely supportive throughout the process, advised him to apply for an even larger grant. After reading through the requirements, he coordinated with The Ability Experience Executive Director of Programs Andrew Matznick to ensure that he, as well as some of his coworkers who were willing to support him in his efforts, had a chance to meet the volunteer hour requirements. As luck would have it, Drake and his fellow volunteers, who were in Orlando, were able to spend the day volunteering alongside the Gear Up Florida team as they passed through the area, as well as joining them for a Friendship Visit with a local organization. After submitting documentation of their volunteer hours and commitment to the cause, Drake was ultimately awarded a $10,000 Allstate Helping Hands Grant for The Ability Experience.
Aside from applying for the grants, he knew he would have to get creative with his fundraising tactics this time around, he couldn’t just ask the same people in the same way, and he could not rely on the potential grants to cover his overall fundraising goal. Knowing this, he devoted his winter break to doing odd jobs for donations, fundraising almost $2,000 in two weeks from generous neighbors and members of the community. Now, as he nears the halfway point of his Journey of Hope experience, he has raised almost $16,000 for The Ability Experience and has had an amazing time on the road, “Being surrounded by like-minded brothers who are all on this trip with a common purpose and goal is so amazing.” He recently had the opportunity to ride alongside Jim Karlovec, the man who helped organize the very first Journey of Hope team in 1988. “It was the best bike ride ever,” said Drake, “It was like riding with a hero.”
To anyone who is considering signing up for a trip like this, he says, “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and let people know what you’re doing. It feels good to others to give to this cause as well, it’s always worth asking someone to donate either their time or money to something that will help other people.”