Bill Barroll had a bold, fundraising plan.
Unbeknownst to the Chief Business Officer and Managing Senior Vice President for Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), Karen Cherry had a similar plan with the potential to completely derail his strategy.
Instead, the two NAIOP MD board members together set a fundraising record and collected nearly $430,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) of Maryland.
When Barroll was approached by LLS to lead fundraising efforts in the 2023 campaign, he immediately agreed. As a survivor of Myelofibrosis, he was motivated to make an impact, focus on a positive and give back to an organization that benefited him so significantly and in so many ways.
“When I was initially diagnosed, I couldn’t spell the disease much less know what the next steps were to get help towards a successful outcome,” Barroll explained. “But the society found my doctors, helped me through my recovery and continue to fund important research to help find a cure.”
As is the case with most successful commercial real estate professionals, Barroll had extensive industry and business contacts, and believed his large network would respond to his ask and make the fundraising process “fairly simple.” What he did not know was that Cherry, Vice President and Leasing Officer for Prologis, had decided to become a campaign fundraiser several weeks earlier and had designs to also tap into the commercial real estate industry for financial support. It was too late to back out and although Barroll was dealt another blow when his father passed away, he decided to press forward.
“Thankfully, we did not cannibalize each other because I focused on professionals in the office sector and Karen targeted those in the industrial market,” he said.
“Dealing with my father’s passing actually provided some fuel for my fundraising efforts,” Barroll said. “In life, you need to deal with many different things both good and bad, but the key is to always find a positive.”
Cherry’s decision to participate was also influenced by a situation involving a family member. Her father-in-law succumbing to myeloma after a battle that only lasted four months. The suddenness of the illness and quick downturn provided the inspiration for her campaign. Cherry’s father, Dick Story, is also fighting a different form of cancer and is “doing well.”
“Dad taught me that you can never know too many people,” she explained. “I reached out to everyone I knew in the business and real estate communities and they responded generously. Blood cancer impacts more people than you realize and it is gratifying to know that all the money we raised will have a significant impact on the work done by LLS.”
While explaining that her fundraising efforts “could easily have been a full-time job,” Cherry said that “when I was not working or doing something with my kids, I was fundraising. That meant getting up early to send emails, having drinks with potential sponsors after hours or searching for the next person or group to contact.”
Approximately 600 individuals and 40 companies contributed due to her efforts.
At the recent LLS gala, Barroll was honored with The Visionary of the Year award, based on his fundraising total of $270,000, representing the largest amount ever raised by a Maryland candidate. Cherry finished second at nearly $160,000, received the Research Pillar Award and had a research grant named for her father-in-law, Claude Cherry.
“Bill and I join only one other Maryland candidate who has ever exceeded the $150,000 mark in the more than 30-year history of the campaign,” Cherry said. “This success could not have been achieved without the incredible support of the commercial real estate community. I am forever grateful for those that answered my call for donations, sponsorships and auction items.”
Barroll spent most of his time fundraising during his morning and evening commute between Annapolis and Columbia.
He was helped by his Denison University fraternity brothers who organized a fundraiser, COPT colleagues (Justin Burns, David Norfolk, Sean Magnusson) and his employer, which contributed $25,000.
“Some people said they could only donate $25 or $50 but they don’t realize that donations of any size collectively add up and enable us to reach our larger goals,” Barroll said. “I spoke to a person fighting cancer who said he receives a monthly $100 stipend from the Society and that money is literally a lifesaver. So, no amount is too small.
“The love and support shown by my friends and colleagues in the commercial real estate is my greatest takeaway. Everyone was incredibly generous.”