campaign: Alcohol Free for a Year!
raised (in three campaigns): at least $1,136
has been fundraising since: May 18, 2011
mission statement: “I am just like any other 20-something who likes to party and ‘have a good time’. But I always wanted to do something more. I am willing to give up alcohol for an entire year (May 18, 2011 to May 18, 2012) or by the time I reach $1,000, whichever comes first, for this great cause.”
We hear about people running races and giving up their birthdays to raise funds for clean water, but giving up drinking? When Timmy Ho heard about the water crisis, he wanted to do something meaningful — so he gave up all alcoholic beverages for a year or until he raised $1,000 and also became the designated driver for his friends and co-workers at events.
So, what was it about charity: water that made you decide to start a campaign?
I first heard about charity: water in a Zappos All Hands meeting where Scott was a guest speaker. I was deeply inspired after his speech. I love that charity: water has the awesome idea of raising money due to an act or birthdays, which means anyone can do it! Plus the guaranteed that 100% goes to where it should.
“I immediately realized that alcohol is a pretty normal/given thing for me. Therefore, I wanted to challenge myself for this great cause.”
Where’d you get the idea to go alcohol free for a year?
I wanted to do something challenging and special so that when I told someone about the campaign, they would be impressed and support me. Being a 22 year-old (I am now 23) guy living in Vegas working at Zappos, I immediately realized that alcohol is a pretty normal and given thing for me. Therefore, I wanted to challenge myself for this great cause.
Zappos is known for fun staff culture. What was it like to go to these and not be able to drink?
It was tough, really tough. It is not mandatory to drink at the events. However, it was my source of blowing off stress and having fun with my family (yes, my co-workers = my family). I had to constantly remind myself that I am doing it for a cause. Eventually I have gotten used to it, having fun at events while being sober, D.D. [designated driver], and the responsible one for my friends when needed. I swear, I am not an alcoholic; I don’t drink to be drunk. But still, as time goes by, it didn’t get easier.
You reached your campaign goal of $1,000 before the year was up: how did you do it and how long did it actually take?
When I first started the campaign, I told everyone — literally everyone — about it: friends, family, co-workers, Facebook, Twitter and text. A lot of friends supported me, but my circle is limited. It took me around six and a half months to raise a little over half of my goal.
As Christmas and New Years approached, half way-ish through the campaign, I started to ask everyone I knew who hadn’t donated yet to donate. And couple of my close friends at Zappos actually just started a “Get Timmy To Drink fund”. Their chain of thought was, “if we could raise another $400, Timmy can drink on New Year’s Eve.” And within 30 minutes of their help, more than $400 was raised and the goal was reached! It took seven months to reach $1,000. As of now, I’m at $1,136 raised.
So how did your friends actually start the “Get Timmy to Drink fund”?
One of them sent out an email to our tech email list, saying, “If you want to help Timmy reach his goal, come over to Jimmy’s desk and donate some money into the Hennessy bottle. Be sure to write the amount you donated since the top three will get to choose what Timmy drinks!”
They literally just grabbed the first empty liquor bottle here in office and started this thing. There was a paper to put a request of the shot I will be having with them as soon as I can drink. If you go to my most recent campaign (Part 3), some of the comments are shot requests, e.g. “I want you to drink Patron!”.
Did you do anything to celebrate?
Around 1 p.m., I hit the $1,000 mark — and I had to take a shot in front of everyone there at the office. And four or five more shot requests followed up… I didn’t really complete any work that day. And after work, there was a Happy Hour with my team and a bunch of friends to celebrate (more drinks).
“Even though I can drink now, I barely do, and when I do, I act differently. I see the world in a new way now, I can’t really explain it but I love this new me.”
Have you had a drink since that time?
I have only had one drinking encounter since at the office and a New Years party. That was when my friends were in town from out of the country.
Has the break from alcohol taught you anything bigger?
Oh, yes. It is not just about raising money. I love doing challenges where it is difficult and it is part of training my mental strength as well. It is a win-win situation; it benefits the world and me.
And now I think I have become a better and different person. I have seen both worlds: one is where alcohol exists to me, and the other, it does not. I used to drink to have fun, but now I realize that being sober can be fun as well in social events. To an extent, I see how it feels like when something taken for granted is taken away from me. Even though I can drink now, I barely do, and when I do, I act differently. I see the world in a new way now, I can’t really explain it but I love this new me.
Any advice for those interested in starting a campaign of their own?
My advice to those interested in starting a campaign is simply just do it! In my case, when I figured what I was going to do, it still took me a while to start it because I was scared. Then I talked to my mentor about it, and he literally said, “Just do it.” He knew that I just needed that little push to step my foot in it and commit. If you are thinking about it, just commit and do it. It was such a fun, exciting, and challenging commitment. At the end, the accomplishment feeling is amazing.