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Nov 8th 2013

Paying It Forward... While Running the 2013 NYC Marathon

Nov. 3, 2013, marked the end point for a two-year mission for a group of individuals at AOL. Our feet hit the pavement beginning in Staten Island as we fought the bitter cold and wind running across the Verrazano Bridge – through the lively streets of Brooklyn – into the borough of Queens – down the three miles of Manhattan's party central 1st Ave. – into the quiet streets and bridges of the Bronx and then back into Manhattan for the torturous (and hilly) final four miles to the finish line...and we did it – all 26.2 miles for Rory!

AOL Marathon NYC

This mission started back at the beginning of 2012. The AOL Sales Team started out the new year with a Sales Conference kickoff during which I won the first Rory Wheeler Courage Award. Rory was a former colleague in the Detroit office who lost a 20-month battle with cancer on July 25, 2011. Winning the Rory Wheeler Courage Award was one of the proudest moments of my professional career. I had never felt so proud and honored in my life, and although Rory and I had never worked directly with one another – I knew this award would impact my life in some intangible way.

I began a rapport with Rory's parents Bob and Karen as well as his wife Kristen and after each email and conversation, I felt a lingering need to ensure that Rory's memory would live for years to come in a way that helped people, in a place that's special in nature and by doing something Rory would have loved. With that, I worked with the Ronald McDonald House in New York City in my efforts to "pay it forward." I created a NYC Marathon team to raise money for the operating costs of the house and renovations of their music room. Knowing Rory's love of music, I thought this would be the best place for his spirit to live on.

I recruited 29 AOLers from across four offices in the U.S. and our training began. Some of these runners knew Rory, knew of Rory or didn't know him at all – yet they were all committed to putting a lot of their personal life on hold to run this race for a great cause. Amid much anticipation, the 2012 NYC Marathon never happened due to Hurricane Sandy but the troopers on the AOL Marathon Team committed to training yet another year. In the end, I'm proud to say, with a handful of injuries, 22 of us ran and this AOL Team in total raised more than $115,000! (Our team site is still live.)

This week I had our final "team" meeting at the RMDH with our Architect, Designer, Construction Aids and Project Manager who confirmed we'll break ground within the next two weeks and start the creation of the Rory Wheeler Music Room at the RMDH in NYC.

Although I'll never fully understand why Rory has become such an impactful figure in my life, he's an angel on my shoulder who has helped me do something wonderful for my AOL family, the Wheelers, the RMDH in NYC and more importantly, for myself.


AOL Marathon Team

2013 AOL Runners:
Spencer Aungst; Lauren Damron; John Fox; Chelsea Johnson; Robin London; Jimmy Mayman; Julia McAndrew; Keith Morrison; Tom Simpson; Jared Smith; Renee Sturm; Brian Virgo & Christa Zambardino

Former AOLers:
Kenneth Jansson; Kelsey Kennedy; Feliz Pomerantz & Donald Rugama

AOL Friends & Family:
Alex Chalmers; Joe Hornstein; Bill Hoy; Ryan Mertz; Chris McAndrew & Dan Zambardino

Contributers:
Brad Elders; Chris Greenberg; Megan Heck; Liz Martinez; Paul Repola & Eva Rose

The AOL Marathon Team was supported by AOL's Community Relations 'Walk and Run Program', which supports employees participating as a team in races for a cause

Aug 29th 2012

AOL Artists Launch Ten New Canvases


From painters to sculptors, join us as we welcome five new artists into the AOL Artists program. Erika Somogyi, Jessica Snow, Lauren Cotton, Matt W. Moore, and Rebeca Raney have created ten new canvases which launched today on AOL.com.

Erika Somogyi, a Brooklyn-based artist, creates complex sculptures and paintings that are both beautiful and fun. Rebeca Raney, another Brooklyn-based artist, creates work of a similar nature, using paint and sculpture to create work that is exciting and playful. The two actually met prior to joining the AOL Artists community while exhibiting at Monya Rowe Gallery. Jessica Snow, a San Francisco-based artist, is known for her colorful geometric paintings and installations. Her most recent group exhibition included the work of renowned artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Sol LeWitt. Lauren Cotton, a Connecticut-based artist, creates large-scale installations out of neon tape. Her work has been exhibited at multiple galleries along the East Coast. Matt W Moore, based in Portland, Maine, creates work that spans a multitude of disciplines. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally. We are thrilled to have such an eclectic group of creatives join the AOL Artists community.

Want to make one of the new canvases your background on AOL.com? Click for Tree Stump, Blue Mountains, Volcano, Petals, Triangles, Geode, Pixel, Dazzle, Ghost, or Snowman.

May 4th 2012

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with New Canvases

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo and in honor of Mexican heritage, two new canvases, Bailar and Fiesta, by AOL Artist Mr. Kiji have debuted on AOL.com. In commemoration of the holiday and our festive new canvases, we are offering our users a chance to win a beautiful art print of Bailar or Fiesta. To enter the contest and learn more click here.

Mr. Kiji, a Brooklyn-based artist, was born in Kyushu, Japan. He has been an active member of the AOL Artists community since 2010 when his canvas, Transisitor Radio, was featured on AOL.com. Mr. Kiji's passion for art began during an apprenticeship in Tibetan Buddhist Thangka painting when he was seventeen. He then went on to study Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. Mr. Kiji's work currently ranges from commercial illustration to large-scale graphic projects. We are thrilled to have such an inspirational creative as part of the AOL Artists program.

Want to make one of the new canvases your background on AOL.com? Click here for Bailar or here for Fiesta.

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