Alex was just 25 years old when he lost his seven month battle against cancer. He was a 2005 graduate of Kaukauna High School and enjoyed writing, mostly poetry. Alex was a free spirit, who always had a smile on his face. The love of his life was his 2-year-old daughter, Alexandrea, who will surely continue her father’s legacy of peace, kindness and love.
Peace and Love For Alex Inc. is a nonprofit which was founded in Alex’s honor. The organization raises funds for cancer research, financially supports for families affected by cancer, and grants scholarships to local high school seniors.
Peace and Love for Alex Inc. has been chosen to benefit from the first ever AAF Design Challenge which is being held November 21 in downtown Appleton.
Joining us today are Mary, president of Peace and Love for Alex Inc., and Jenny Vanden Heuvel, event organizer from the Fox River Ad Club’s new AAF Design Challenge. They are here to tell us about a great opportunity for designers in the Fox River area to use their talents to help an extremely worthy local nonprofit. Jenny, why don’t you start by telling us more about the idea behind the AAF Design Challenge.
One of the Fox River Ad Club’s goals this year was to create an opportunity for students to further expand their portfolio outside of the classroom, gain more exposure and collaborate with creative professionals. AAF Design Challenge became the result. In this event, students will prepare a small branding effort for Peace and Love for Alex Inc., a local nonprofit that raises funds for children battling cancer. Students will present their work to a panel of creative professionals and the nonprofit board, and receive feedback during one-on-one breakout sessions. It is a great opportunity for students to expand their portfolio outside of the classroom, benefit from professional collaboration and networking, and experience direct interaction with clients — all for a good cause.
I think this event is a great idea! What an excellent addition to the AAF event line-up. Mary, your nonprofit is the first to benefit from an AAF Design Challenge. Tell us a little bit about your organization and its mission.
Peace and Love for Alex Inc. was founded in 2012 by family members and friends of Alex Sprangers, who passed away from the devastating disease known as cancer. Alex was only 25 years old when he lost his seven month hard fought battle. Shortly after his death, friends and family members got together to discuss how to keep his beautiful memory alive and how to help other families who were struggling financially. The mission of Peace and Love for Alex Inc. is to help local families currently battling cancer, to provide funds for research, and to provide scholarships to Kaukauna High School Seniors who may be pursuing a career in writing. Alex was a 2005 graduate of Kaukauna High school, who had a passion for writing, especially poetry. Our organization is a perfect balance of helping others, while keeping his memory alive. It was also important to the organization to keep the money we raise local, because there are so many families in our area that are affected by cancer.
When we began searching for a nonprofit for this effort, we were hoping to find a group that didn’t necessarily have a great amount of exposure and could really benefit from our skill set as designers and creative professionals. I was immediately touched by the mission of Peace & Love for Alex Inc. and the clear passion Mary had for the cause. There was a lot of opportunity for identity development and creative efforts, and after our initial conversations, it seemed like AAF would be a great fit in helping elevate awareness for the group.
It sounds like this event is actually a win win for all involved; both the designers and the nonprofit.
That was 100% our goal! We originally went into this looking for a way to help better serve local college students of creative disciplines. Rather than creating a “mock project,” it only made sense to utilize so much talent for a cause that could really benefit from the effort.
This project is a definite “win” for our organization and we are thrilled for this opportunity! Peace and Love For Alex Inc. is run by all volunteers and they have done a great job in getting the word out about our organization, but the exposure from this event will benefit us greatly! And we are so excited to work with creative students and professionals. Being a nonprofit organization, our goal is to raise as much money as we can without a great expense. For example, in creating our website, we did not want the expense of hiring someone to “create” it, so it is a collaborative effort by our volunteers, none of whom have the expertise of creative professionals and students. We are open to creative ideas, suggestions or anything that will make our website, logo and events more appealing. The more exposure we receive, the more money we can raise, the more local families we can help!
As a student, the challenge is achieving more experience to prove yourself in the professional world — before you have actually gotten there. We wanted to create an opportunity for students to add a project to their portfolio that spans outside of the classroom or an on-campus internship to help diversify their portfolio before landing that first real “gig.” Students will also benefit from one-on-one interaction with creative professionals coaching art direction and talking directly with the nonprofit board to understand the client interaction side of things. The event will be great to get a better understanding of these processes, create networking opportunities, and of course, the winner gets their work implemented as the identity of Peace & Love for Alex Inc. in addition to a $100 cash prize!
Again, we are so thankful for this opportunity and for the exposure this event will bring to our organization! And to know that we may be helping a college student diversify their portfolio, which may lead them landing their first job, well that would be something that Alex would be proud of!
One of the inherent benefits of helping a local nonprofit — such as Peace and Love for Alex — is that your efforts make a difference right here at home. The AAF Design Challenge is going to be a great event. I’d like to thank both of you guys for your leadership and for inspiring others to use their talents to strengthen our community as well.
There is certainly no shortage of nonprofits that have a great cause and need assistance. Volunteering is something that has always been very important to me personally, and I think it is important to use our specific skillsets to contribute to a cause greater than our own. I hope that this event will not only help Peace & Love for Alex Inc., but serve as a lesson for up-and-coming designers to continue to utilize their talents for a greater good as their careers progress.
You are correct in saying there are a lot of nonprofit organizations that have a great cause and need assistance. A lot of times people — especially young people or those attending college — think that the only way to help an organization out is monetarily, but nothing could be farther from the truth! This event is the perfect example of how college students can give of their talents rather than their hard earned money to benefit an organization. And quite honestly, I believe their creative talents are worth so much more than any monetary donation that they could contribute at this point in their lives. I am so grateful for this opportunity to work with these creative students! I know together we can make this event an incredible experience for everyone involved!
This 1-day event will be held in the downtown 222 Building on College Ave in Appleton on November 21 from 1pm – 5pm. All students are invited to sign up for free at aaffoxriver.org/events-list. If you are a creative professional interested in mentoring at this event or if you have any questions, you can contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of luck to all involved!