Having fun is a prerequisite for RPS ISG International’s many charitable endeavors across the Shore
An inescapable fact about RPS ISG International in Cambridge is that no matter how sophisticated this elite insurance agency-employee benefits- human-resources consulting firm may be, it has always been about people. It’s in the care they give their clients; it’s in the faces of their highly satisfied and loyal staff, and it’s conspicuously there in the way that staff serves the community — not just in word but in deed as well.
RPS ISG International’s director of employee benefit services, Brad Sutliffe, is one such example. He spearheads the annual “Preakness Palooza” party each May to benefit the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore’s Imagination Library program. Created by country-music superstar Dolly Parton, the Imagination Library provides children up to the age of five one book a month regardless of their families’ incomes.
“I actually started a Preakness Horse Race event in college, 12 years ago,” said Brad. “Apparently it was a success because it kept getting bigger each year.”
Over time, Brad began to see the event’s potential as something more than just a fun diversion; he realized it could be used to help the community, too. It should come as no surprise, then, that the third annual Preakness Palooza party will once again donate its proceeds to help increase children’s literacy on Delmarva.
For the $30 ticket price, friends, family, acquaintances and business associates will convene at Evolution Craft Brewery in Salisbury on Saturday, May 17 to watch the Triple Crown race on a large flat-screen TV while being treated to beer, wine, heavy hors d’oeuvres, music, games and prizes.
“I love seeing my two kids run to the mailbox each month because they can’t wait to see which new book they’ve
received,” said Brad, who was named 2013’s “Volunteer of the Year” in Dorchester County by The United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore. “I hope everyone realizes the importance of providing books for children.”
Meanwhile, Brad’s colleague Dean Goodwin had no intention of sitting on the sidelines while Brad had all the fun.
In addition to being RPS ISG’s marketing manager, Dean is the founder of the “Disc Golf Tournament & Business Appreciation Luncheon,” which will see its own third annual outing in September. The “Wacky Disc Tournament,” as Dean refers to it, actually got its start back in 1998 as a jovial neighborhood Fourth of July event that wasn’t bogged down by a whole lot of rules and regulations.
“Back then,” offered Dean, “the first-hole tee-off was my backyard, and we’d go around the neighborhood, throwing discs into empty garbage cans, until we finished 18. What was especially funny was that as the day wore on, the discs started going all over — caroming off houses, windows, cars, bushes, trees, pets and kids (just kidding). We all just laughed that much more.”
The official event still captures the lighthearted spirit that made the neighborhood version such a phenomenal success — given that it offers awards for longest throw, closest to the basket, most trees hit and most discs in the water — but the scope has grown and the stakes are a lot higher. Now the event is held at Schumaker Pond Park in Salisbury and is attended by well over a hundred people representing dozens of local businesses, a status that originally had Dean scratching his head somewhat.
“When we first decided to convert the disc golf tournament to a charitable, community-based event,” reports Dean, “we just wanted to do something good for the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore and the Imagination Library. But as soon as we started testing the waters, to see if people and businesses were at all interested, they started knocking down our door to participate. It was an overwhelming, really incredible response, and we are extremely proud and grateful.”
The incredible response Dean refers to includes a cadre of high-profile sponsors that range from national insurance carriers and business partners to RPS ISG International’s commercial clients.
“Our WBOC team has participated in the disc golf tournament for the past two years,” said Laura Baker, vice-president /COO of Draper Holdings/WBOC-TV/Draper Digital Media, “and RPS ISG International always comes up with the best ideas. It doesn’t seem like fundraising when you are having so much fun!”
So far, the 18-hole, par-three event has raised in excess of $10,000 on behalf of the United Way, and Dean feels that this year is poised to be the best yet. The third annual “Disc Golf Tournament & Business Appreciation Luncheon” “tees off” later this fall.
“Our office immediately embraced the opportunity to work together for a common cause,” said Area President Steve Robinson of RPS ISG International. “While Brad and Dean have spearheaded the efforts for the United Way, our entire office contributes to multiple charities and organizations across Delmarva, including multiple sclerosis, Junior Achievement, Relay for Life, Fragile X, our volunteer fire companies and Athletes Helping Athletes.”
For individual tickets or sponsorship information about “Preakness Palooza” on May 17th or “The Disc Golf Tournament” this fall, contact RPS ISG International at 410-901-0778 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RPS ISG International has been honored as the “Business of the Year” by the Maryland State Chamber of Commerce and recognized by National Underwriter magazine as one of the “Top-five sales agencies in the U.S.”
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