Perry Giambuzzi (left, second place), Frank Rubba (first place) and Russ Luke (third place).

Dec. 8 was a blustery day in Philadelphia. We had dodged more than one nor’easter up to that point, and were enjoying the effects of global warming, so when a friendly competition between three friends materialized into the Rock-Off for Michael’s Way, weather was not even a consideration. Not that it would have mattered; the air was charged with anticipation for the day’s events and no one seemed to notice that the tent was dangerously close to becoming a para-sail behind gale-force winds.

NEED FOR THE CAUSE

But I must digress; the following mission statement from www.michaelsway.org will give you some background on Michael’s Way:

“The mission of Michael’s Way is to help the families of children with cancer to cope with the extraordinary expenses that come about as a direct result of the child’s illness. Chris McElwee, the founder of Michael’s Way, lost a brother to leukemia and was made aware of the unique problems that accompany cancer. When a child is diagnosed with cancer the intensive treatment regimen frequently requires a parent’s fulltime attention. In many cases, a parent finds it impossible to continue working while caring for a sick child. This loss of income, combined with the increased costs associated with cancer treatment, leads to severe financial problems for many families.

“While there are numerous organizations that assist people with medical expenses, there are very few that can be of help with other necessary expenses. Michael’s Way was founded to fill this need.

“Families of children in treatment are eligible to apply for funds to pay for needed expenditures such as rent, mortgage, utility bills, childcare and transportation to and from the hospital, etc. Applications are made through the child’s social worker, who assesses need and priority.”

Paul Leaks rips board while Bluetooth enabled.

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR SCREWGUNS!

Since its inception in 2002 as an annual golf tournament to honor his brother’s memory, Michael’s Way has raised over $2 million. Unlike many charities where precious few dollars find their way past the bureaucracy, these dollars go directly to those that need it most, the families. In 2006, 245 families were supported by contributions totaling $400,000. The annual golf tournament has expanded and grown, and now includes events throughout the year. From Family Fun Days to Beef ‘n’ Beer and Casino Night, the folks behind this great charity find a way to spread Michael’s arms wider. This year, May 20, 2007, marks the first 5K Walk-A-Thon at Tyler State Park.

Back to the story: Within days of spawning this idea, sponsors were lining up to take part. Along with the continuing efforts of Chris’ company Fastrack Construction, Trevdan Building Supply, Principle Supply, D’Lauro & Rodgers, Inc., Powers Fasteners, Grabber, DeWALT, and Ramset supported the cause by donating prizes for the contestants.

The contest was simple: Who could hang the most clean boards in less than four hours. The competition started at 7:30 and concluded at 11:30 with one 15 minute break. With an impressive lineup of Philly’s best, including Paul “Chocolate Thunder” Leaks, Perry “The Hit Man” Giambozzi, Joe “Little Joey” Ferracio, John “Tails” Clarke, Russ “No Neck” Lucke, Billy “The Kid” Gallagher, Mike “Skippy” McAdams, Mike “Likes It” DeLucca, Frank “AH” Rubba, Brian “Rock Man” Stainrock, Mike “The Brother” Gallagher, Vince “The Rock Star” Doyle and Chris “The Top Dog” McElwee, the competition was fierce.

At the end of the four hours, 14 contestants hung more than 700 sheets. The three men who earned bragging rights for the next year were Russ Lucke, hanging and banging 69 sheets; Perry Giambozzi, who hung 76 sheets; and Frank Rubba, the grand champion who squeaked out one more at 77. I’m pretty sure Chris gave the guys the rest of the day off … to go sit in a whirlpool and drink amber fluid.

SPREADING THE WEALTH

This day’s event raised over $30,000 and is an example of what can be done when your heart is involved. As a parent of a child who spent months in Children’s Hospital, I can attest to the strain these unique problems add to an already unbearable situation, so I have a personal connection to this cause. I applaud the individuals who have supported this and other like causes of the heart. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of business, and most of the decisions businessmen make are simply ones to better the bottom line. Take a moment to consider if you possibly have a bit of time you could spend doing something to benefit the human line.

Remember: Business decisions are only about money; heart decisions are about people.