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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

Sep 24th 2012

A Sneak Peek of the New Patch



Today, Patch debuted the new version of its site with a friendly new design in five Long Island, NY test towns. Patch's Chief Content Officer Rachel Feddersen shared the news on the Patch blog:

Along with its vibrant, friendly new design, the site has had an overhaul in how it works, enabling users to customize their interface, share and follow stories with their neighbors.

We want Patch to fit in with the everyday life of the community, and all the people, places, and groups that make it thrive. It's a more neighborly hub of common interests and activities - where learning, sharing, and doing things together is easy. Plus, it's just plain fun to use.

Read more about the new design over on the Patch blog, or check out one of these sites for yourself:

Jun 14th 2012

Patch Partners with James Paterson's READKIDDOREAD

Patch has partnered with a website founded by No. 1 best-selling author James Patterson, READKIDDOREAD.com, to encourage children to read. The first program in the partnership, "Patch and James Patterson's/ReadKiddoRead's Summer Reading List," launches this week on all 850+ Patch sites. A video message from Patterson will be featured on the sites that introduces Patch readers to the program and its four age-specific reading lists (ages 2-7, ages 6-9, ages 8-12 and tweens and teens) chosen by Patterson as great summer reads. Kids and parents can share their own recommendations, their responses to the books and their progress with the list on their hometown Patch site.

Patterson has been the number-one selling author in the U.S. for the past three years, with more than 16 million books sold in North America in 2011. He's the first author to have No. 1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children's best-seller lists. A champion of reading, Patterson launched READKIDDOREAD.com to help parents and educators connect their children with books that will turn them into lifelong readers. The site, which debuted in 2008, won the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize.

In a press release yesterday, Warren Webster, Co-Founder of Patch, said "James Patterson's passion for inspiring children to read made this partnership a perfect fit for Patch, given our commitment to supporting our communities - and by extension, the kids and families in those communities." Patterson said he's "excited to be getting a conversation going this summer with such a lively and active network of families across the country" through Patch.

Jun 11th 2012

Patch Announces Record Month in May

Patch announced today that May was its best month ever for traffic and revenue. According to just-released comScore numbers, Patch served a record 11.7 million users in May, a 14% increase over April's 10.3 million users and an 11% increase over its previous traffic record of 10.6 million users last August. In addition, Patch's total revenue was 14% higher than its previous record last November and also represents a 17% bump in revenue over April 2012. In 2012 Patch has already booked 130% of its total 2011 revenue.

In a press release today, Patch also said:

  • The 14% month-over-month growth in users outpaced the comScore Regional/Local category as a whole, which grew only 3% over the same time period.
  • Patch had a 12% increase in engagement (visits per unique visitor) from April to May. Within the top ten regional-local properties, this represents the highest increase in engagement month over month, and ranks Patch as the second highest in engagement among those properties.
  • With an average site age of just over 18 months, Patch is now the #5 regional/local property on the web, from #10 when it first entered the rankings in December 2010.


Jon Brod, who co-founded Patch, said in the release: "We are extremely gratified to see these measures of the traction we have gained in our communities and in our business since our launch just over 3 years ago."

Jun 4th 2012

Patch Launches New Initiative for Small Businesses


From the day I started at Patch over four years ago, we realized that small businesses (SMB) were an underserved and misrepresented group. Much of the information presented about them online was incorrect and their online opportunities were confusing and limited. To effectively represent local communities, we knew you had to start with the local businesses and places that comprised them. As a result, we proactively - and painstakingly - collected information about every small business and place in every community we covered. We built comprehensive local business directories which we offered to businesses free of charge, enabling SMBs to claim their listing and market themselves to their communities through Patch. We also provided a dedicated SMB support team to address their unique questions and needs. When an SMB calls or emails us, someone is here to help them.

Today, in announcing "Patch Partners," we are reinforcing our commitment to Patch advertisers, and to small business owners everywhere. Why? Because at Patch we know that small businesses have more at stake in local communities than most. They not only live in these communities, they've invested in them, and in themselves. They're truly the fabric that binds strong communities together. Small businesses also have a unique set of needs and challenges that are frequently overlooked by traditional media. We're in a great position to help them. Small businesses are a major audience for us; they're "power users" on Patch. When it comes to commenting, uploading and engagement, they're one of our most active user groups. We view them as essential partners in growing local commerce and community. We hope "Patch Partners" will not only further empower small businesses to reach their most valuable customers, but enrich and inspire them by connecting them to each other, to successful businesses within the Patch network, and to nationally recognized entrepreneurs and businesses that have successfully built their brands and businesses into global successes.

To learn more about this announcement, read the full press release here.

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