Community Service: Going the Extra Mile(s) for Kids

April 1, 1997

You've heard the expression going the extra mile. But how about an extra 7,000 miles for a charity? That's what Doug Stone, a salesperson with RE/MAX–First Choice Real Estate, Westboro, Mass., did last fall.

He flew from Massachusetts to California in a 1948 Piper Cub during a 39-day trip to raise awareness and several thousand dollars for the Children's Miracle Network, RE/MAX's official charity. The group helps kids with birth defects, mental retardation, and genetic disorders. "I always wanted to make the flight and decided it would be a great idea to tie RE/MAX and a charity with a trip," comments Stone.

Even though he flew solo, his accomplishment wasn't a solo act. As Stone plotted out his destinations, he contacted RE/MAX brokers nationwide to help him publicize his flight, arrange visits to hospitals in the cities he visited, and find places to sleep and eat.

In addition, Stone sought out sponsors to help fund the trip. During a RE/MAX sales rally, he passed out sponsor sheets inviting people to make per mile donations.

Since he could fly only three or four hours per day, it meant he'd be away from the office for more than a month. His assistant and a couple of colleagues picked up the slack at the office while he took to the skies. He says the once-in-a-lifetime experience more than made up for any business he lost.

The high-tech comforts in the sky were limited. The two-seater plane was equipped with only an altimeter, a gas gauge, and a radio, so Stone employed old-fashioned navigation systems--using a compass and maps, and following roads, rivers, and railroad tracks as guides.

One of the trip highlights was the route along the U.S.-Mexican border, where Stone saw the dwellings on both sides of the border simultaneously. The contrast between the housing conditions of the two countries was stunning, he says. "We get so focused on our own lives that we lose sight of what the rest of the world is all about."

Elyse Umlauf-Garneau is a Chicago-based freelance writer and former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.

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