Silicon Valley corporate team raises $60k through employee wellness challenge
Clayton Grames, an employee at Intuitive in Sunnyvale, is a part of the philanthropy committee at his company’s foundation. Together with more than 100 coworkers worldwide, they turned their personal health and wellness into dollars where they raised more than $60,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association®. Clayton shares how the program works and why it’s so important to raise funds for Walk to End Alzheimer’s®.
Connecting with the Association
When Clayton Grames was in high school, his grandmother was living with Alzheimer’s disease, a disease her mother, Clayton’s great grandmother, also had. While not directly involved with his grandmother’s care, Clayton watched how his family loved and cared for his grandmother throughout her disease.
Eventually, Clayton moved to the Bay Area where he began working for Intuitive, a surgical robotics company that aims to improve healthcare through research and technology. While starting his new life in the Silicon Valley, he met the woman who would later become his wife. She happened to work for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Thinking back to his grandmother, Clayton saw this as a sign and was spurred into action. He thought this would be a great way to get his company involved and started a team for Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Silicon Valley.
Using his company to raise funds
Clayton has been participating in Walk since 2017, making this his 7th year. “I’m the Team Captain of my team,” said Clayton. “As a part of that I’m always looking for ways to help our team be successful and help raise more funds.”
At Intuitive, all employees are given the opportunity to donate funds towards an organization of their choosing. Here are a few of the ways people can give back:
- Employee matching – Intuitive Foundation will match dollar for dollar any donation made by an employee up to $4,000.
- Giving campaigns – During a specific time of year, Intuitive Foundation will run special matching campaigns which allow employees to receive an additional matching opportunity beyond the regular $4,000 mentioned above.
- Wellness challenges – Encouraging employees to take better care of themselves for points that are converted to dollars donated for a specific cause.
All of Intuitive’s fundraising initiatives are done through their foundation, which Clayton is currently a member of. “I organize activities around our giving and matching programs,” said Clayton. “We also give grants to causes in the community. Roughly 18 months ago, the foundation started running wellness challenges. I started one for the Walk team and invited others from across the company to join [the program] in support of the Association.”
The wellness program encourages employees to focus on their own mental and physical health and reward employees with money that goes towards a cause of their choosing. Each program runs for a specific period of time and for a specific cause. Employees can earn up to 100 points a week and each point is worth $1. This means each person can raise $100 a week every week for the duration of the program.
Here are some of the ways employees can earn points:
- Exercise – anywhere, any kind
- Read a book
- Cook a healthy meal
- Spend more quality time with your family
“It allows employees to get together and say hey we’re going start a wellness challenge and work on our wellness,” said Clayton. “You log the activities you’ve done on an internal company app and we trust employees to do that honestly.”
In 2022 Clayton launched the first wellness challenge for Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It was 10 weeks long and had the potential to raise $1,000 per person. “Over 100 people participated and we had 6,000 hours of wellness,” said Clayton. “We raised more than $60,000 for the Association. It was cool to see the response we had.
“We’ve done fundraising in the past and there are a lot of people who feel passionate about Alzheimer’s. Not everyone feels that they have the extra money to donate. Having the opportunity [for employees to] participate in a way that matches their style is really great. It allows us to bring in more people than would otherwise participate.”
Funds raised through the wellness challenge are separate from the employee matching. Which means that employees can participate in the challenge and still receive matching funds for money they personally donate. Because of this the Intuitive team raised an additional $16,000 bringing their 2022 total to more than $76,000. The team is already in the middle of the 2023 wellness challenge and is excited to be raising money for the cause.
Clayton’s challenge was open to employees that worked for Intuitive anywhere in the world. As the bulk of participants for Clayton’s Walk team are based out of Sunnyvale, all funds raised go to Clayton’s team in Silicon Valley. However, he hopes one day they’ll be able to spread that out to other Walks across the nation.
The importance of funding
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, six in 10 caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia were employed or had been employed in the prior year while providing care. These individuals worked an average of 35 hours per week while caregiving. Fifty-seven percent of dementia caregivers reported needing to go in late or leave early while 18% reduced their hours of work due to care responsibilities.
“Alzheimer’s has a broad impact on the population,” said Clayton. “If you haven’t had a connection with it, you’re going to. The Association isn’t just funding care for those in the middle of [the disease] but also the research that aimed at ending it. That’s the only way we can get out of this cycle.
“We’ve seen changes recently from absolutely no treatment and now, for the first time, there are FDA approved treatments. This is huge progress, and we just have to keep that momentum going. [We can do that by] helping the Association do what they do.”
Connecting with coworkers
Clayton sees the philanthropy work his company does not only as a way to give back to the community but also as a way to connect with other coworkers and make the work they do more meaningful. “The purpose is to give employees the opportunity to feel like they’re contributing to a cause above and beyond what their company does. It really allows employees to connect and feel like they’re part of something that has a higher calling. This leads to employees that are more excited to come to work and do their job even though those activities aren’t necessarily related to their day job.”
For Clayton, he has learned so much about his fellow coworkers. It turns out several people he works with have a connection to the disease that he otherwise wouldn’t have known about. “You have no idea who has any kind of connection or experience with this. Then you get involved and people come out of the woodwork and it’s everywhere.”
Honoring his grandma
While Clayton encourages everyone who participates in the wellness challenge to join him on Walk day, not everyone is able to do so. Typically, around 10-15 people show up at the event to walk with the Intuitive team. “From my perspective I could put in a lot of energy to get people to show up on Walk day,” said Clayton. “I’d rather have people do the wellness challenge and get more money raised that way.”
No matter what, Clayton sees Walk day as a celebration for all the Intuitive team has accomplished this year. “It’s a celebration of everything that’s gone on during the year,” said Clayton. “It’s an opportunity to all come together and say congrats. It’s a way to recognize the hard work that everyone is doing to make an impact in this space. And also, I get to honor my grandma and her life and memory through this work and that feels great.”You can join Clayton’s team Intuitive or start your own team and join us for Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Silicon Valley on October 14. Not in Silicon Valley? Visit alz.org/walk to find a Walk near you.