Raising money for a worthwhile cause
Most people in the drycleaning industry work hard each day trying to make ends meet and bills paid in these trying times. It is not often that they are able to take the time and effort away from work to help others.
Although there are many cleaners who help out their communities with Coats for Kids, prom dresses for needy students, two percent for the local schools and other notable causes, most are just caught up in the daily grind of work, work, work.
Michael Schapiro, the owner of Wedding Gown Preservation Company in Endicott, NY, is one who takes the time and special effort to help make a difference in the community.
In July, Schapiro was involved in the largest single sporting event fundraiser in the country — the Pan Mass Challenge, a two-day, 200-mile bike ride from Sturbridge MA, to Provincetown, MA, to benefit cancer research. Schapiro and the others involved raised $34 million for the Jimmy Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research and the Dana Farber Institute, a special center for pediatric cancer, in Boston.
There were 5,400 bike riders and each one is obligated to get sizable donations to help children and their families overcome this frightening disease. Schapiro’s family has been touched by cancer and he was anxious to help raise money for cancer research.
The experience was emotional, heartwarming, and gratifying, Schapiro said.
“My grandparents started a little tailor shop in Endicott, NY, in 1913. It was the impetus for my parents and brothers to enter the business. This weekend was all about giving back to the community and helping families who are less fortunate than mine,” Schapiro said.
“I can tell you hundreds of stories from the people I met on the ride who have been affected by the disease. Some riders have lost spouses and some have lost children or parents. Some riders have miraculously overcome their disease thanks to the Dana Farber Institute and Jimmy Fund, and thanks to the money raised each year.
“It was so inspirational and so uplifting to ride alongside friends and strangers and hear their stories and their heartfelt thanks to all the riders. I have never seen such an outpouring of love, help, and just caring for our fellow human beings. It was so good for the heart, and soul, and helped me realize what one person can help accomplish.”
After the first night of cycling, most riders slept in a huge tent. Schapiro was lucky enough to spend the night at friend and fellow dry cleaners Paul and Roberta Bagley’s house in Onset, MA, just at the midpoint of the ride.
Schapiro has spent many years in the dry cleaning industry. In 1981, along with his two brothers, he opened a tuxedo rental store. Since they already had the drycleaning equipment, they were urged to expand their formal wear store to include drycleaning. From that they have expanded to an Apparel Master franchise, CRDN fire restoration business, HealthWear, as well as Wedding Gown Preservation Co. In 2005 they sold it all except for Wedding Gown Preservation Co., which Schapiro kept. Since then he has purchased Allied Heirlooming of Mississippi and Heirloom Memories of Florida. His wife, Sue, joins him in running the business.