Say Thanks Austin, the crowning event capping off each year’s RecognizeGood Legends program, presents the Austin area with a unique opportunity to say “thank you” to a select group of remarkable individuals who contribute their time and talents toward exemplary acts of good. The Class of 2013 Legend award winners , known now and forever as Legends, are truly inspiring as a whole. And the staggering response to this group of individuals and their supporting casts not only set a new record for Say Thanks Austin’s success, but more importantly showed more than ever before how vast an impact one person can make.
We received over 62,000 “thank you” votes during the course of the event. Votes poured in via email, text, Facebook, Twitter, paper voting cards, the web, and the Say Thanks Austin mobile app. “Thank you” votes were cast from eighteen countries, including all but five U.S. states and over 140 different Texas.
Advertisements promoting Say Thanks Austin, the 2013 Legends and their respective causes appeared in various forms. On the word-of-mouth level, countless emails were sent and innumerable phone calls made. The Legends and their networks of supporters posted incalculable appeals for votes. Professional athletes from both the NFL and the NBA leveraged their considerable influence to support the Legends. They both spread the word to their gigantic followings and cast their own votes. We received votes by those as young as 4 and as old as 95.
The sheer volume of the gratitude generated by this year’s campaign grabbed a massive amount of attention across the city.
As a light shines on the selfless endeavors of the individual Legends, the Circle of Good grows. Lee Leffingwell , mayor of Austin, has remarked many times, “I hope that Austinites will lead the country in being the city that says “thanks” most often to the citizens who do great work in our community.” With over 62,000 total “thank you” votes this year, it would appear that Austin is well on its way to that distinction.
The Legend award recognizes a community contributor, or Legend, who embodies the core beliefs of RecognizeGood. Each Legend award includes a small ceremony, where the winner receives a $1,000 donation to a nonprofit organization. The Class of 2013 Legends includes seven individuals and two couples. They represent not just Austin itself, but surrounding communities like Round Rock, Georgetown, and Lakeway as well. Award ceremonies are typically held at a fitting, meaningful location of the Legend’s choosing. The 2013 ceremonies included particularly unique venues. We held ceremonies at a juvenile justice center, the lobby of a medical clinic, and even the middle of a baseball field!
And as for the reason these Legends do what they do?
Each dedicates themselves to a worthy cause serving the greater good, advocating for the less fortunate and underprivileged, including the homeless, those with disabilities and special needs, the sick and underinsured, military veterans and their families, the elderly, and those in developing countries without the use of their legs.
As each Legend rallied their fans and followers to vote “every day, every way,”they realized the impact of their work. And the touching stories of support were astonishing. One Legend wrote, “I am in awe of the energy and time spent helping us to achieve the “thanks” we need!” Another voter wrote in, “My 7 year old came home from school with the biggest smile on her face yesterday, and showed me voting cards filled out by her teacher and the kids on the bus. I love empowering our youth to make a difference so early on!”
The Say Thanks Austin campaign of 2014 accomplished many things. First and foremost, nine wonderful local nonprofit organizations received awareness. We created a “buzz”. And hundreds (if not thousands) of people became aware of the missions and goals of these organizations. The nonprofits have the opportunity to leverage this “buzz” and tell their story to new potential donors and volunteers. Secondly, we recognized the selfless dedication of the individual Legend award winners in an amazing way. Most importantly, we fixated the collective attention of our great city on the often-overlooked goodness that exists right under our noses.