This account of an extraordinary fundraiser for the LIVESTRONG Foundation is brought to you by Edward Pizzarello, co-founder of Milepoint and Team Leader, Fly For Yellow. Buckle your seatbelts low and tight, because this one’s an incredible ride.
Boarding an airplane is not as glamorous as it used to be. Planes are constantly full, seats are smaller, airlines have all kinds of new rules about when you can board and what you can bring on the plane. Gone are the hot meals (any meals for that matter), blankets, pillows and a free cocktail when you board that flight from New York to Los Angeles.
You’d have to be a little crazy to board a flight just to fly, where the goal was to enjoy the plane ride with little regard to what happened when you arrived at your destination.
And yet, that’s exactly what a MegaDO is. Each LIVESTRONG Partnered Event is unique, and yet this one defied definition. The frequent travel community Milepoint.com is where people find out about these unusual events and clamor for tickets, which generally sell out in less than 10 minutes.
They’ve been featured on the Today Show, written about in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Associated Press and the New York Times. The group itself is comprised of dozens of travel bloggers who shared their experiences along the way.
This year’s MegaDO featured flights from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, then Munich, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago. Sounds like a long trip, but these crazy travelers accomplished this in 5 days. They even managed to convince United Airlines to give them a brand new 787 Dreamliner for the flights in the US.
This was the fifth flying expedition the group has organized, and along the way each has outdone the last event in terms of fundraising for various charities. The organizers chose LIVESTRONG as their feature charity. While the final amounts haven’t been calculated, they expect to raise well over $50,000 through a variety of auctions and raffles along the way. Participants had access to bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like spending an hour in a United 777 flight simulator with a pilot, or flying to Europe in business class so they could hang out in the cockpit of a Lufthansa 747 with a captain. Previous events saw the group fly to Boeing to be the first civilian group to ever board a 787 Dreamliner.
And, while there was tons of fundraising for LIVESTRONG, the trip was also about awareness. The organizers shared stories about members of the group fighting cancer. Each passenger received a yellow bracelet and information about LIVESTRONG’s navigation services in their amenity kit. The LIVESTRONG team was on-hand to help answer questions and assist with the auctions and associated fundraising efforts.
Along the way there was a cocktail reception at 38,000 feet between San Francisco and Houston, a dinner in a hangar while people climbed on the tires of the 787 and a sit-down with the head of United Airlines while he answered questions about everything from frequent flier miles to decaf coffee on airplanes.
The MegaDO is not for the faint of heart. It’s a collection of thrill-seeking frequent travelers that will go just about anywhere in the world as long as there’s a plane to take them and frequent flier miles to earn. Milepoint is the place where many of them meet to discuss the latest strategies for earning the most miles and points or how to plan the next crazy itinerary. It’s also a community built on sharing. They’re just as happy to help a curious new member learn about travel as they are to open up their wallets and give money to those in need.
The fight against cancer has many faces, too many to count. Milepoint and the MegaDO crowd are all about the fight. Who says the fight has to be limited to a ground attack?