It’s nice when competitive impulses can be cultivated for
That’s what happened last year at a BioGuard banquet when
Mermaid Pools and Spas of Anderson, Ind., was honored for raising money
to help cystic fibrosis through the manufacturer’s Splash for
The organization receiving the funds was called Laps for CF, an
advocacy group dedicated to increasing awareness and support for
Diagnosed during childhood, cystic fibrosis causes the body to
produce a thick mucus that interferes with breathing and digestive
functions. The life expectancy today for an infant born with CF is
about 38 years.
BioGuard took on the cause after hearing about an incredible girl
named Emily Schreiber, who was diagnosed with CF in 2003 at the age
of nine. Undaunted, she organized her first CF fundraiser only six
weeks later. An enthusiastic swimmer, Emily geared her event toward
collecting pledge money for each lap she would complete.
Today, Laps for CF has grown from a modest program in a community
pool to a vibrant non-profit that’s garnered national support
The award given to Mermaid Pools and Spas caught the attention of
one friend to the company — Linda Butler, co-owner of
Pools Plus in Elizabethtown, Ky. She and husband Fred have been
friends with Mermaid owners Brenda and Tom Murr for more than a
decade, so she figured it was safe to pitch a friendly challenge to
see who could top whom the next time around.
So it was on. The Butlers and Murrs designated May as the month and
decided that whoever raised the most money during that time period
would win. But the true winner would be the Laps for CF
As with all competitions, there was a bit of smack-talk. Murr and
Butler posted a little back-and-forth dialogue on a new Facebook
page dedicated to Splash for CF. But the goading came to a head
Linda Butler and Brenda Murr were on the phone when Murr asked if
Butler had received a package that day. It was busy at the store,
so the deliveries hadn’t been checked in yet. Murr
encouraged Butler to look.
“So I go to check, and here’s this little box,”
Butler says. “There’s a cup with all these Tootsie Roll
pops tied together, and a sign that says, ‘First annual
Splash for CF Challenge. … a mermaid told us that Pools Plus
is going to take a licking. Let’s whip this CF thing
But once May 1 came around, the time for talk was over. It was all
Last year, Mermaid Pools raised its funds by selling candy bars,
and BioGuard-provided “Splash for CF” wristbands. This
year, the company offered 5 percent off any chemical purchases to
all wristband purchasers for the entire swim season. “It was
an easy sale,” Murr says. “For a lot of them, the
bracelet was paid for with their first season
But one showcase event really brought the numbers up. A tournament
of Corn Hole, a bean-bag-toss-like game that’s popular in the
Midwest, was scheduled in the store’s parking lot. Mermaid
created a carnival atmosphere, with food, drink and balloons. Each
team paid an entry fee.
To motivate the staff, Mermaid Pools gave two hours of paid time
off for every $100 raised, whether from wristband sales, raffle
tickets or Corn Hole participation.
As a result of its efforts, Mermaid Pools raised just under
Pools Plus also sold goodies and raffled a grill. But the
company’s showcase event was a hot dog-eating contest that
was structured like a 10k run, where each participant gathered
pledges from donors.
The company also set its contest in the parking lot with live
music, a radio remote, food and other games. “We gave hot dog
trophies to the winners,” Butler says.
At the end of the challenge, a clear winner emerged: “Pools
Plus whomped us,” Murr says. “Never get in a bet with
Linda Butler — she knows how to raise money.” Pools
Plus brought in almost $5,000 that month.
But in this case, everybody wins. Both companies have continued
fundraising, for a total of about $11,000 so far this year.
“CF is a disease that doesn’t get a lot of
attention,” Murr says. “But after we started this, we
were surprised to see how many of our customers have been affected
by it, and you just didn’t know.”