To be completely honest, my greatest hope is to be “put out of business” by a cure for cancer. But as long as there is a need, my goal will always be to rise up and meet it.
The work you do for the Franklin County Area Cancer Network helps so many people and touches more lives than even you are probably aware of. We want to share your story with everyone in our community and hopefully gain even more support for Dave’s Ice Cream Social!
Hi Jeremy. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a native-born Vermonter and have lived in Franklin County my entire life. I’m a husband and a father. I was born the fifth out of six kids and am a proud xenial (the micro-generation born ‘77-‘83). I was born before the digital age and remember life before all the tech, but I was exposed to tech as a kid, so I’m comfortable with it. I love to fish, sing karaoke, and I play a mean game of ping-pong. I have my own table, and I play against the wall to keep my game sharp.
We know that you are very passionate about the Franklin County Area Cancer Network and have created Dave’s Ice Cream Social. Tell us how and why you got involved with the cancer network and the story behind Dave’s Ice Cream Social.
In 2014 my brother Dave got sick. All the doctors he saw thought it was because of his pre-existing blood clot disorder. Eventually, he became gravely ill with blood poisoning (sepsis). He almost died and spent eight days in the ICU. That was when they discovered a tumor. They did more tests and he was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic cancer. He was 39. My brother had two children from a prior relationship (my niece and nephew) and he said he wanted to fight. He asked me for my help so I went with him to his appointments, along with my mom, stepdad and other family members. After his chemo failed, I started putting together a fundraiser so we could afford to get him from VT to a clinical trial in another state.
A coworker told me about the Franklin County Area Cancer Network (FCACN). They provide grants to local people going through cancer treatment and will provide grants for up to 3 months during treatments or a total of $600. My brother was referred for a grant and I remember he used part of his first grant check to buy new sneakers. He had tumors that were growing in his hips and bones, and the comfortable sneakers made it more manageable. He was in a lot of pain, but he said it helped.
My brother died only 3 months after his diagnosis. He got pneumonia after his second round of chemo. He appeared to be the “healthiest” I’d seen him only 10 days prior to his death. It was shocking and heartbreaking to lose him that fast.
The following year, in the spring of 2015 (around Dave’s birthday), I had an idea that my family should get together and throw a little party in honor of Dave. I decided to make the party a fundraiser to help the FCACN pass forward the kindness they had done for Dave.
I bugged a bunch of local businesses and they donated supplies so my family could make ice cream sundaes. We held a large informal gathering of the public at the Collins Perley Complex and gave out sundaes for a suggested $5 donation. We raised about $1,200 that day for the FCACN, and Dave’s Ice Cream Social was born.
It appears you do a wide variety of events, in addition to the ice cream social, to support the cancer network. Please tell us more about this work.
As the FCACN became more well known, the demand for grants increased. I met with the President of the FCACN and told her I would like to make it my goal to raise about 1/3 of the total grant money they were planning to hand out that year. None of the FCACN make a salary from this. It’s all volunteers, as am I. I set a goal for Dave’s Ice Cream Social to raise $10,000 each year. In order to reach that goal, it was necessary to take Dave’s Ice Cream Social beyond just the flagship ice cream event. In addition to the big ice cream event, we decided to add a t-shirt sale, pop-up events (I bring a little cart and go around to local businesses to hand out scoops in exchange for donations), an online karaoke fundraiser (AKA, The Singathon), and The Holiday Hay Wagon. The Singathon takes place every October and is an event where I sing in exchange for donations—for any size donation to the FCACN I will sing a karaoke song of the donor’s choice. Local businesses who support what I’m doing match the donations made by the Singathon.
In the winter, the Phillips family makes a Dave’s Ice Cream Social inspired hay wagon ride with Christmas lights, for the St Albans Co-op Holiday Parade. You can ride in the hay wagon in exchange for a donation to the FCACN. The Phillips family provides hot cocoa, cider, and cookies with a goodie bag.
In recent years our totals looks something like this:
- T-shirt sale: $600-ish
- Flagship Sundae Event: $2700-ish
- Pop-up Events: $1700-ish
- Singathon: $4300-ish
- Holiday Hay Wagon: $600-ish
Over the last 5 years, our events have raised just shy of $29,000 for the FCACN. 100% of this money has become grants for people going through cancer treatment.
What are some of the results you’ve seen from the work you’ve done for the cancer network?
I never try to reach out to people receiving these grants, as there are privacy concerns, but I’ve had some grant recipients reach out to me, and I know they are grateful in the same way I was grateful for my brother.
What motivates you to continue donating your time and energy?
The people in my community are what keep me going. I’ve met countless survivors who make me both proud and hopeful. I’ve shared stories with people who’ve experienced a loss and want to share memories of their loved ones. I’ve met people who want to volunteer. I’ve met generous business owners who offer up ideas, financial support, and host events. I do get tired sometimes, but then I tap into the kindness and generosity of the community and it lifts me up and pushes me to keep going.
What are your goals, in regard to the charity work you’ve been doing, for the next two to four years?
I want to keep pace with the demands and needs of the community, whatever that means. We’ve had wonderful advancements in cancer research recently, specifically, immunotherapy. To be completely honest, my greatest hope is to be “put out of business” by a cure. But as long as there is a need, my goal will always be to rise up and meet it.
Would you like to give a shout-out to anyone who’s worked with you?
Oh man…SO MANY. I’ll name a few off the top of my head but the list is sooooo long I could go on forever. All the great people at:
- Twiggs Restaurant
- The Ridgeline Real Estate team
- O’Brien Electric
- Post Road Repair
- Brocks Heating A/C Gas and Plumbing
- D&H Housing and Mini Storage
- Hillcrest Stables
- Dusty Trail Real Estate
- Graphics By Design
How can other community members support you in your efforts?
Reach out via direct message to the Facebook page, Dave’s Ice Cream Social.