Nothing is as sweet and satisfying as having ice cream on a hot summer day…except, perhaps, raising $7,500 through your ice cream shops for the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) when your young son has a bleeding disorder.
For six weeks last summer, entrepreneur Ryan Griffith, of Charlotte, North Carolina, ran a fundraiser to benefit NHF at the checkout counters of his six Marble Slab Creamery franchise locations in North Carolina and South Carolina.
“It was a ‘donate a dollar, you can put a little “blood drop” on the wall’ campaign,” Griffith says. “At the register, at checkout, people were asked, ‘Would you like to donate a dollar to the National Hemophilia Foundation?’ And that’s when our great customers stepped up and made generous donations.”
Griffith took his 5-year-old son, Kai—who has severe hemophilia A with an inhibitor—to all of the stores to educate employees about hemophilia before starting the fundraiser.
“I did a presentation on what hemophilia is, a family’s reality with a bleeding disorder, what’s the outlook, what are the economics of how much it costs for treatment, and then what we can do to raise money and awareness for our community,” Griffith says. “The staff are the ones leading the fundraising campaign, so I really wanted to educate them on what they’re rallying behind and what the cause is for.”
Griffith became involved with NHF locally and nationally after his son’s diagnosis. His initial foray into fundraising for NHF was a Hops for Hemophilia fundraiser he organized at a brewery two years ago. That event raised $3,500 for research. Griffith has also helped publicize bleeding disorders awareness locally, notably by convincing property managers of several buildings in Charlotte’s Uptown central business district to change their buildings’ LED lights to red on the evening of World Hemophilia Day on April 17. In February, Griffith brought his involvement to the national level when he joined NHF’s Board of Directors. But he’s still active at home, donating ice cream to NHF walks and activities in the Carolinas, for example, and supporting and taking part in other events.
Because his 2019 ice cream fundraising campaign was so successful, Griffith is working toward approval for a national point-of-sale campaign benefiting NHF through all Marble Slab Creamery locations nationwide, ideally to be launched this summer. “That’s a big deal, because there’s probably 300 locations,” he says.
In the meantime, Griffith is pleased that his ice cream fundraiser has had a positive impact on Kai, who is just starting to realize the many ways that NHF helps the bleeding disorders community.
“He’s getting to an age where he’s very perceptive and understands,” Griffith says. “He understands the hemophilia community. When we went to all the stores, he understands what we’re trying to do. And it’s very important for me to instill that in him and to give back to the community any way we can.”