April 1, 2014

A Striking Success

Contributed by Debby Weber, General Manager, Roosevelt Field®

As my daughters were growing up in our multicultural community, I thought it important to immerse myself in the facets of education where I could make a difference.  In serving in the PTA at town and county levels, as a school board trustee and as an education lobbyist, I saw many children who could not, due to social or economic circumstances, depend upon family and traditional education communities to ensure their successful preparation for life.

I did everything I could to highlight the needs of these students, but alternatives to traditional education were just not available. It was heartbreaking.

At some point during my middle years with Simon, I started to track SYF with increasing interest.  I always donated. I followed the wishing well collections.  And I started to think about what we in the field could do to raise big money.

In 2007 I was asked to come up with a new SYF event for the Northeast Portfolio, so I met with a community partner and brainstormed.  We wanted an event where hundreds of people could participate and where all of the malls in a region could work toward a fund raising goal – an event that didn’t depend on weather, that didn’t take all day, where guests could physically participate – or not, and where people would have fun while they networked.  And we wanted to create an event formula that could be adopted by other regions and repeated, over and over, for years to come.

Bowling for Education was born. The first event was held by the Northeast Region on December 3, 2007, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of SYF.  280 people attended. 80 sponsors participated. And we raised $75,000. The numbers have grown each year, and in April of 2013, the event was attended by 450 guests, secured more than 180 sponsoring companies and raised $284,000! Over the years we have shared our event “formula” with other regions across the company, which now refine the event for their own markets and contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to SYF.

It is incredibly satisfying to work for a company that has a significant, positive impact on the lives of thousands of children who might not make it on their own. How thrilling it is to know that we can help make that difference.

About the Author:
Debby Weber joined the Simon Malls® team in 1998.  She currently serves as General Manager at Roosevelt Field® in New York.  Debby is a strong advocate for SYF, and in honor of her outstanding support of SYF, she was designated as a Founders Award Winner in 2013.

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