When Carol (Fischer) Parker and Sharon (Haley) Hermel began to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, they were hoping to raise a couple thousand dollars. Thirteen years later, the pair have been responsible for more than $113,000 in donations.
Carol and Sharon’s journey with fundraising began in 2006, when one of their fellow classmates, Julie, tragically lost her life to early onset Alzheimer’s. Later that year, the two met up with a group of friends from the class of 1965. The group had a great time reconnecting and decided to create a special class calendar to commemorate the occasion. It was at that time that the idea to dedicate the calendar to Julie and donate any money raised to the Alzheimer’s Association in her name emerged.
In that first year, Carol, Sharon and the rest of the women involved raised close to $6,500. Since then, it has been their goal to raise at least that amount annually in honor of the class of 1965.
While they started by selling calendars, today, their fundraising is mostly done through email. Even so, they are still known as the “Calendar Girls and Friends” team at the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of their unique contribution to fundraising.
"It’s a joint effort, for sure,” says Carol. “Without our donors, we wouldn’t be here.”
In addition to their work fundraising for the Alzheimer's Association, Sharon and Carol have also been involved in organizing and planning class reunions. “For some reason, our class likes to gather,” says Sharon. “We all get along really well, and we ended up having some very unique people who became very successful. The main benefit [of these gatherings] is that there’s been a reunion of old friendships from high school, and the making of new friendships.”
Carol and Sharon are both grateful for the opportunity to foster these friendships with their fellow classmates, and for the impact their giving has made. They both encourage current Minnetonka students and recent graduates to stay involved in service and volunteer work in an area they are interested in.
"You just want to leave the world a little better than you found it,” Carol says. Additionally, the pair indicates that it’s never too late to follow your passions. Carol adds, “Whatever you’re passionate about, keep doing it for as long as you can. It keeps you young.”