Jacob Brier co-founded the nonprofit Lifecycle Inc., with his wife, Dani Sahner Brier six years ago, to help raise funds for cancer. An operations manager for MojoTech, he has worked in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations as a community organizer, marketing associate and annual giving officer. Here he discusses the current focus of the nonprofit.
PBN: How and why was Lifecycle Inc. founded?
BRIER: In 2008, my wife Dani and I made the decision to localize our charitable giving efforts. We had just completed a bike-a-thon that raised money for cancer research out-of-state, and wanted to address a more immediate need: local cancer treatment. Both having had relatives battle cancer, we knew we wanted to focus our attention on this disease. We didn’t find a bike-a-thon in Rhode Island that supported cancer treatment, so we decided to start one, and we created Lifecycle Inc.
PBN: Your next major event is the sixth annual Ride 'Round Rhody bike-a-thon on Aug. 10 at Bryant University. How did this event start and how will it operate?
BRIER: In 2009, we held our first bike-a-thon referred to as Ride ’Round Rhody. The bike-a-thon is Lifecycle’s main event, and its purpose is to fuel Lifecycle’s ability to achieve its mission. It started as a small, grassroots event in the old Sears parking lot off North Main Street in Providence. With a bit of effort, and an unfair share of rain (hurricanes our first and third year, with a monsoon on year two) the event has blossomed into a full-fledged, community-driven fundraising event that has become a dependable source of significant revenue for cancer centers throughout the state.
Since the inaugural event, 508 Ride ’Round Rhody cyclists have ridden between 25 and 75 miles in one day supported by more than 250 volunteers who help the day of the ride and throughout the year. The first Ride ’Round Rhody generated $10,360 and to date our participants have raised more than $240,000 and saved countless lives.
PBN: Your latest goal is to raise $1 million for cancer treatment in Rhode Island by the 10th Ride 'Round Rhody. How close are you to that goal and what will it take to get there?
BRIER: We have a long road ahead of us, but with the passion of our participants – riders and volunteers, alike – we’ll get there. Each summer brings us that much closer to the goal, but it really is a secondary goal.
The main purpose of “The Rhode to $1 Million” is to assign a specific, measurable value to our overall goal of making a truly substantial impact on local and national cancer treatment. Having already supported several tremendously successful clinical trials – that would not have existed without the grants issued by Lifecycle – we are certainly well on our way toward achieving that goal. One trial that was funded by Ride ’Round Rhody established a new treatment protocol that is being used nationally. Another example: a volunteer who will participate in 2014 was treated for stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and is now cancer free.
PBN: You used Twitter to congratulate Team @MojoTech on being the first team to raise more
than $1,000 to support local cancer treatment. How else are you using social media to further your cause?
BRIER: We use social media primarily for “soft communications.” We share interesting news, engage our participants and donors, provide humor on occasion, and make timely announcements – such as congratulating a team or RRRider for fundraising achievement or some other milestone.
We also use an app called Ripple Funding, which allows viewers to get some inside information (typically about celebrities, but in our case, about Lifecycle) and raise money for LIFEcycle, simply by viewing the free app.
Event-critical information is also frequently shared on our social media communications, but we also make sure to provide that information directly to the people who need it to ensure everyone is receiving the information firsthand.
PBN: You have 19 partners, including Providence Business News. What is the partners' role and how are you working to increase this number?
BRIER: Lifecycle’s partners are a crucial part of what we’re able to accomplish. They provide a combination of cash and in-kind support. It is important to me as Lifecycle’s co-founder, to our board of directors and to all our participants and donors that we are able to maximize the percentage of rider-raised funds from the bike-a-thon, and to direct as much of that as possible to local cancer treatment.
The generosity of our corporate partners allows us to achieve that. This year, we actually have groups of cyclists representing several of the companies that are partnering with us, which really adds to the impact they have, and certainly the benefit they create.
Along with sponsorship opportunities, we work with local non-profits and groups in collaborative partnerships. For example, we have a local organization providing mechanic stations and sag wagons the day of the ride, another group that is providing on-route mechanical assistance and moral support and even a local yoga studio that will be providing a complimentary yoga class for cyclists, volunteers and spectators.