Mike McGarry and Jeanette Carle hoisting the big check at The Big GIVE on September 28th, 2023.
The goal of The Big GIVE this year was to raise $125,000 to fund an entirely new program in 2024 we call Storm Chasers. Our incredible community of donors responded to the challenge, raising over $133,000!
The Storm Chasers Story video was premiered at The Big GIVE on September 28th, 2023.
To put the video into context, the primary gathering discussed in it happened on July 6th 2023 in Woodbury MN while Tracy McGarry was unresponsive at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. To use Mike McGarry's exact words:
I was driving back and forth to Mayo every day to visit Tracy in the ER; coming home every day and feeling like I was abandoning her; worrying about the kids’ fears about their mom and wondering what I was going to tell them every day when they asked me, straight up, ‘tell me the truth.’” - Mike McGarry
Mike’s boys, Jake and Joe, are both in high school, and when we visited their home on July 6th we hung out with them too. We fed Joe before his baseball game that was later that same evening. We saw a tiny glimmer in Joe’s eye when we started talking baseball with him.
Three days later, on Sunday July 9th, 2023….Mike’s wife, Jeanette’s daughter, Jake and Joe’s mom…they all died when Tracy McGarry died. Mike’s family had to celebrate Jake’s 16th birthday two months later with a big black gaping hole in their hearts.
We had enormous concerns about holding up Mike’s story as the center story of this campaign. “It’s far too soon”, we heard from more than one person. So we had multiple conversations with Mike where he was given the opportunity to opt out entirely. Those discussions happened less than 2 weeks after Tracy died. Mike never wavered once. His only concern was that he wouldn’t be able to get the words out. So, we recorded his testimonial rather than parading him up on stage. We recorded the testimonials at his home in Woodbury on August 10th, only 32 days after Tracy died.
We had only gathered like we did at Mike's one other time. It was when we chased Patrick Triemert's storm on May 4th, 2022 which was within 24 hours of his wife Clarissa losing her life.
When we showed up at Patrick’s and Mike’s, there wasn't a Storm Chasers program. Not in a million years at either of those gatherings would we have taken a picture of anyone or anything. It was all about showing up and being completely present in the here and now.
As a result, none of the pictures in the video were from either of those gatherings, they were from other similarly shaped gatherings that were held for VERY different reasons; we decided to add them because we hoped they would help the video stand on its own and tell the story.
There was also never a notion that The Big GIVE this year would have anything to do with Mike McGarry until the evening of July 6th. The moment that Storm Chasers became the goal of the campaign was the 'driveway moment' that Mike and I had as the Jack's guys were leaving. The moment Mike said to me:
We have to use this event tonight as a template for something that Jack's does.” - Mike McGarry
Why did Jack's chase Mike and Patrick's storms?
In short, Mike and Patrick inspired us to chase their storms. Patrick because he was among the brightest examples we’ve ever seen of a guy having the courage to reach out. And Mike because he was family. As far as we were concerned he worked at Jack's. He’s been the principal journalist, author, and editor for our sponsored caregiver stories for years. In the process he single handedly raised over $30,000 in support of our coalition.
The answer is that these two guys are extraordinary. And to us they had become family. When we showed up at Mike’s house someone was saying how amazing Jack’s was because of what we were doing. I responded:
Jack’s isn't doing this, Mike's family is. We don’t do this for anyone, we simply couldn’t. And if anyone is amazing in all this it’s guys like Mike, not Jack’s. - Kyle Woody
Now that our community has given Storm Chasers the green light, what is our vision for the program?
Let's start by talking about what won't change about how we show up for caregivers during their storms.
The critical timing and location of the gatherings won’t change. We will continue to be self-contained so that we don’t interfere, we aim to remain in the background and completely out of the way. And most importantly that Jack’s is always there first and foremost for the caregivers, that will not change.
But here's a peek at what will change.
Couldn't make it to The Big GIVE but want to become a founding donor of the Storm Chasers program with your name in the logo?
It's not too late! Simply make a donation to The Big GIVE campaign by clicking here, and if you want to explore joining the Storm Chasers leadership team please call or text Kyle Woody at 952.828.5490.
Written By: Kyle Woody
Kyle is notorious for giving up on stuff. His kindle is riddled with half read books and his Netflix que is brimming with half watched shows. In 2018 he also called it quits on an 18-year career in construction. But he’ll never give up on Jack’s Caregiver Coalition. One of the three proud founders of the coalition, he has served as executive director since day one. You’ll often find him swearing at his laptop or feeling outnumbered by all the ladies in his group exercise classes. He is blessed daily by his beautiful bride, their five children, and their fur baby Janet.
THANK YOU TO THE BIG GIVE SPONSORS!!!