Paul Szemerenyi is not only Vice President of North American Channels at 1E, but also a keen cyclist and charity fundraising legend. Every year he supports one of 1E’s mid-west partners, MCPC, by riding in a Multiple Sclerosis charity ride in Cleveland, covering 150 miles in two days, and is taking part in a ride alongside 1E colleagues in September for the same cause. We caught him in between meetings and training to find out a little more…
Paul, you do an awful lot of these events, with some impressive charity fundraising along the way. How did it all begin?
It all started when I lost my father to cancer a few years back. It was a tough time and I wanted to do something, so I signed up to run the New York Half Marathon in 2012 on behalf of the American Cancer Society. A couple of colleagues expressed interest in joining me, and it snowballed from there. Before we knew it, a group of us from 1E had raised over $11,000, which the company matched.
Before that though, I’d started biking in February 2011, and my first Pedal to the Point with MCPC was in August of that year, a race I have participated in every year since then. Running in the NY half marathon with colleagues Nick and Ambareesh only became a reality after my Father died of cancer, and I was looking for a high profile race, where I could give back and raise some money for the fight against this hideous disease. I saw that there were available spaces on the American Cancer Society team in the NY Half, so I signed up. It was an amazing experience, and one I will never forget.
I’m good friends with MCPC’s VP Sales, Andy Jones, and we were talking about his massive weight loss, and how cycling had changed his life. Soon after he talked me in to splashing out on a rather expensive bike. And having done that, I had extra motivation to make sure I used it! Over the past three years, Team MCPC has raised over $280,000 for Multiple Sclerosis, and hope to break the $500,000 barrier next year. I joined them on a ride, and stuck with it. Andy Jones has agreed in return to ride in our MS ride at the end of September.
I have no personal connection to or experience of Multiple Sclerosis, but the charity has a great cycling program, and it’s very well organized. I ride in events such as these as it’s a great way to keep fit, foster relationships with our partners, and support a fantastic cause by raising lots of money on their behalf.
What’s your motivation? These aren’t exactly minor challenges.
Part of it is the desire to keep active, especially as I get older. Part of it is the enjoyment of overcoming the physical challenge. The real motivation though, especially with the cycling events, is seeing see men and women with MS competing with such passion and desire. This year, one of those guys came up to us and said ‘thank you’, and that topped all of the other reasons for taking part. It’s really humbling, not to mention inspiring, to see that they aren’t letting their condition hold them back.
On top of all that, I never feel like I’m doing this by myself; we have a really strong sense of philanthropy and community at 1E, which is reflected in our Partners. Two years ago Team MCPC had a team of 20 taking part in the Cleveland ride, last year we had 66. My next cycling event is for Team 1E – it’s the Philadelphia to the New Jersey shore race, which covers 100 miles of glorious East Coast terrain. We’re looking to raise a good amount, and would be delighted if you could donate to our efforts. 1E always matches its employee’s charity fundraising efforts, so every dollar really does matter.
So you’ve run for charity. You’ve cycled for charity. Are we likely to see you swimming and completing the set?
Funnily enough, I’ve been looking at taking up sprint triathlons! I live on the north shore of Long Island, so it’s ideal country for it. Watch this space…