Jersey Mike’s Subs franchisees Bill and Kathleen Schulte weren’t completely convinced selling subs at last weekend’s Sarasota Invitational Regatta was something they wanted to do. It seemed like a great marketing opportunity for their sub shop located directly across University Parkway from the Nathan Benderson Park rowing facility. But the couple, which has a novice rower on the Sarasota Scullers, was torn between running a booth at the event and supporting their daughter’s team. They decided to make a go of it and sell subs while taking turns cheering for their daughter.
Unfortunately their daughter couldn’t make the event due to illness but the Schultes were there selling subs, supporting the team anyway. Their efforts paid off in more ways than one when something quite extraordinary happened that they never could have planned or imagined.
Since opening their first location in 2004, the Schultes have worked exclusively with a local charity, the Life of Riley Foundation to help raise more than $20,000 for pediatric brain tumor research, awareness and support. Inspired by a very courageous little girl named Riley Saba who died just six months after her diagnosis in June of 2001 at the age of 7, the Life of Riley Foundation provides outreach to the families of patients with pediatric brain tumors.
On Sunday, while the regatta was in its second full day of racing the Schultes were selling subs just like the day before. But when a woman and young boy walked up to their booth looking for something to eat the petite blond commented about the fundraising display the Schultes happened to have with them that day for the Life of Riley Foundation.
“He’s a recipient,” she said with a big grin pointing to her son. “Of the Life of Riley Foundation’s outreach program.” It turns out that Joshua Small, now 10 years old, had a brain tumor in 2009 and his parents Karla and Joe were put in touch with the foundation for help. The one thing Joshua’s mom remembers most was a backpack filled with things like gas gift cards for the long drives to Tampa where Josh was treated at All Children’s Hospital. “They were there for us when we needed them the most. They’re a wonderful, wonderful organization,” glowed Karla.
“Meeting Joshua and his parents was such an incredible honor, remarked Kathleen Schulte. “It gave me chills the minute Karla told me about Josh and I realized I was looking at a little boy who, along with his family, went through so much but with the help from the Life of Riley Foundation their journey was made a little easier. It also got me really excited about our March “Month of Giving” fundraising campaign.”
Bill Schulte commented, “Meeting a family who happened to walk up to our booth that was a recipient of some of our efforts was a thoroughly moving experience.”
Kelly Saba, mother of Riley said, “Making a Difference Day” is a perfect name for this event because that is just what it is… making a difference in a child’s life and their families’ that had been given the worst possible news – “your child has a brain tumor.” It’s about giving support to the family while they focus on saving their child’s life. Helping the here and now that are going through it and contributing to our research endowment fund to support research to find a cure is our purpose and Jersey Mike’s Subs has been such an incredible part of our mission over the last several years. The organization as well as the Schulte Family is so generous with their time and money. They are behind our mission 100% and we appreciate it.”
For more information about the Life of Riley Foundation please visit: www.lifeofrileyfoundation.org
Members of the National Rowing Team: Stephen Whelpley, Richard Klein, Mae Joyce Gay, Victoria Burke and Gevvie Stone with Paralympic Gold Medalist Laura Schwanger, Joshua and Karla Small, and Jersey Mike's Subs Franchisees Kathleen and Bill Schulte in back.