What do you do when you get married, buy your first house and doctors tell you that you have six months to live? You start an ice cream company, of course.
So why do I PMC? I had a successful career in the consumer goods and food & beverage industry, including long stints at Power Bar, Pepsi and Saucony. Feeling the entrepreneurial spirit, I wanted something new, something to call my own. I was thinking back to my college days, and how my love of ice cream first started when driving a Good Humor truck. Not only did that gig help pay for college, but I remembered the pure joy in people's faces and their smiles from ear to ear when I gave them ice cream. It was the greatest job I ever had. I'd wake up at 10:30 a.m., hit the beaches, concerts and pools, and watch faces light up from kids running towards my truck when I rang that bell.
A few years ago, I started thinking about the ice cream category, and how the powerhouses like Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs had not been challenged. I saw an opening, thinking if I can create an ice cream company that can appeal to a younger generation, I could make a big dent in ice cream market share. I was 3 months into the launch, working on branding, flavors, messaging, etc. I wanted my new ice cream company to be bold, provocative with no apologies to using rich, decadent mix-ins. I thought to myself, "Vice Cream," and much to my surprise, no one had trademarked the name. I was on a roll.
While planning my ice cream company, I also lived an active lifestyle. It was my passion. I biked from Florence to Rome, I ran a 4:17 mile, finished 37 half marathons, 7 marathons, and even completed a Half Ironman. I was loving all aspects of life. And then life threw me a curveball I found myself sitting in a parking lot on the receiving end of a phone call from my doctor telling me those three words you never want to hear "We found something."
And it was aggressive. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma, Large Diffused B-Cell, and I was told I had six months to live if I had not been diagnosed. My world was shaking. Staring down a grim diagnosis and six rounds of chemotherapy, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I wasn't just going to live life, I was going to indulge in it. I poured myself into the things that brought me joy. I exercised, I ran, I biked, and I worked every day on perfecting our ice cream company.
But as of last August, I am fortunate enough to say that I am cancer free. The staff at Dana-Farber are incredible, they interacted with me and all the patients with such an upbeat attitude and smiles, I use to wonder if they worked at Disneyworld before they came to DFCI.
I immediately wanted our company to get involved with Dana-Farber, and other cancer-related organizations, to put smiles on the faces of those who faced the same battle I did. We came up with "Cream-o-therapy," where we had our team hand out Vice Cream samples to those at Dana-Farber and other hospitals and so that we could bring unapologetic humor to cancer patients, doctors, families and, the back bone of the system, nurses. hospitals around Boston fighting cancer. We then said we could be doing more. I started speaking at events, sharing my story and my fight to inspire crowds to not put your dreams on hold if facing a situation like mine. It was therapeutic, especially when people would come up to me and thank me personally for sharing my story. I said to my team and myself "what next?" What else can we be doing? PMC was an organization we would love to get involved with in any capacity we could fit in. Because we had a story to tell. But so, did the participants.
This was Vice Cream's first year getting involved with the PMC, and we had our team handing out samples to PMC riders throughout the entire weekend. Finishing the ride and enjoying our delicious decadent ice cream, I saw the same joy from the riders as I remembered when seeing kids run up to my Good Humor truck in college.
PMC was a big moment for my company to be an official sponsor and we hope to just build on this relationship for years to come. Next year, we intend to make PMC a company event and put together a company team "the Vice Creamcycles"?
But while we celebrated the riders' great accomplishments at the finish on Saturday and Sunday, I also "raised a scooper" to those who would arrive at Dana-Farber in the morning, not to a bike, but to their infusion chairs for their Chemo treatments. You are the fighters. You remind us that, yes, we have made progress, but we have so much more to go to get to a finish line.
And that is why I, and Vice Cream, do PMC.