Rider student develops nonprofit to benefit children with cancer
One of the most influential experiences of junior Ethan Dowie's life was working at Sunrise Day Camp last summer. The camp hosts children with cancer and their siblings, providing them with a variety of fun, engaging activities.
"I had never experienced anything like working at the camp before," Dowie says. "I thought it would be a little gloomy since it’s a camp for children with cancer, but it couldn’t have been more of the opposite. Everyone was just so happy to be there. I was so surprised to see kids who had gone through so much always having a smile and wanting to have fun."
After getting to know each of the campers by name and making dozens of secret handshakes with them, Dowie wanted to find a way to give back to the camp.
"I thought of trying to create a fundraiser for the camp in the middle of the summer when I was working there, but I had no idea how in-depth it would be to actually create it," the entrepreneurial studies major says. "I just knew I wanted to give back to the kids and their families."
Dowie's plans to make his nonprofit a reality started taking shape in his Intro to Entrepreneurship class this past fall with Dr. Lee Zane, program director for entrepreneurial studies. An initial trip to Rider's Center for Entrepreneurial Studies to discuss the idea turned into a multitude of meetings, emails and phone calls with Zane, Lisa Teach, Rider's entrepreneur in residence, and Dr. Ron Cook, associate dean for the College of Business Administration's graduate programs.
"Teach, Zane and Cook were all extremely helpful in helping me develop the overall concept of forming a nonprofit for the purpose of raising funds for the camp and potentially other causes. It’s amazing how much insight they could give on a project that they had only heard of days before the first meeting," Dowie says. "Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible. It’s just another reason I’m thankful I chose Rider. It shows how much they take care of their community here."
After months of planning and piles of paperwork, Dowie Corp. is now a reality. The nonprofit aims to raise money for cancer patients by holding competitive sporting events year round. Its first event will be a track and field competition on June 23 at Pearl River High School in Pearl River, N.Y. All proceeds will benefit Sunrise Day Camp.
Zane says Dowie's passion for developing Dowie Corp. helped him blossom as a student and a businessman.
"Any student can come to the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and discuss a business idea. We'll do everything we can to guide them and give them feedback, but we don't do the work for them," Zane says. "Ethan's certainly been doing the work and is really passionate about the mission of his nonprofit."
Dowie's nonprofit is the epitome of civic and community engagement through the University's Engaged Learning Program. As an entrepreneurial studies major, he saw an opportunity to positively impact society and utilized the skills learned in the classroom to establish his own organization.
Creating the nonprofit was just the first step in the process for Dowie. He's been working tirelessly to ensure all details are finalized for Dowie Corp.'s track meet, from gathering sponsors and participants to having the event officially sanctioned by USA Track and Field. Finding the time as a full-time student and track and field athlete is challenging, but always rewarding for Dowie.
"It’s really difficult to balance everything, but planning is key," he says. "It's good I’m not really a nine to five guy and I love being my own boss. I know that whatever work I put in is what I’m going to get out of it. If I’m making 30 calls a day to try and get sponsors, I know my business is going to thrive."
True to his entrepreneurial spirit, Dowie is already thinking about the future of his nonprofit. He's planning a dodgeball tournament as the organization's next fundraiser with hopes for frequent events throughout the year, dividing the funds raised among various cancer charities.
"These first few events will try and get Dowie Corp.’s name out there. Once I get that name recognition, that’s when I can start having 10 or more events a year with bigger venues and really trying to do all I can to raise money," Dowie says. "As we get bigger, I really want to have a cycle of charities the events can benefit."
To learn more about Dowie Corp.'s inaugural track meet, click here.