We had the good fortune of connecting with Sterling Bailey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sterling, how does your business help the community?
Cap for Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit org that works to help children who are fighting cancer. We do this in a few ways, First and foremost, we believe that if we can reduce the financial strain that cancer treatment places on families, then the family can focus on their child, thus giving the child a better chance at beating cancer. This belief drives our primary program, family sponsorships, where we sponsor pediatric cancer-fighting families and we help them pay their bills. We’ve found that there are plenty of programs out there to help these families with the medical bills themselves but there’s nothing to help them pay their mortgage or rent. There’s nothing to help them pay Verizon or their car payment. That’s where we come in. We sponsor each family up to $5000 and make it so they don’t have to worry about bills for a while and allow them to focus on what matters most. Our secondary program is our character visits program. This is where we call upon our network of cosplay pros to visit the children at their homes or in the hospital. With this program we strive to have a direct, positive impact on the children by bringing them face-to-face with their favorite pop culture characters. Whether they like Captain America, Batman, Elsa or dozens of other characters, we’ve got them covered. To sum up and swing back to the original question. From a community perspective, we are helping families within our community who need that help the most. From a world perspective, we hope that others will see what we’re doing and want to do something to – even if it’s not with our org. Just knowing there are organizations of caring people out there doing good is often all people need to start doing something good themselves.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve built my career (for my day job) in tech. I started working for software companies as a web developer back in 2002 and with the exception of a short stint at a couple of financial services orgs, I’ve worked for software companies since. I’ve always been attracted to technology and automation and loved how software can make our lives easier. After several years of working as a web developer, I got pulled into marketing (specifically marketing operations) and that’s pretty much where I’ve been since. I love it because it is a great mix of technology automation and marketing strategy – the art of creating a meaningful relationship between companies and their customers. Kind of a nice blend of left-brain and right-brain work. My success within the marketing operations world put me in a position where I could start (and fund) my nonprofit, Cap for Kids. Now I have these two careers that I love and it has brought more fulfilment to my life than I would have imagined. I’m often asked why I was motivated to start the nonprofit or how I went from marketing operations to starting a charity to help cancer-fighting kids. I would start out by saying that working in my day job led naturally into the charity. First, it’s important to recognize the fundamental component of being in a position where you could even think about doing more. I had accomplished what so many Americans set as goals – great job, nice house, decent car and 2.5 cats. (yes, my cats are my children). Once these basic American-dream goals are achieved, I think some people tend to lift their head up from the grind and ask, what else? What else could I do? That’s where I was about 7 years ago. I wanted to do more. Also, everything I’d done to this point was really for myself so I wanted to see what I could potentially do for others. So, I started thinking about it but really didn’t know what I might do. At the software company I was working for, I had a few colleagues who participated in fundraisers for pediatric cancer focused charities and through that I started hearing the stories about these young superheroes, fighting for their lives. I was so offended by the concept that a 3 year old (who’d done absolutely nothing to deserve it) was having to fight this horrible disease and might not win the fight. This planted the seed in my mind as to where I wanted to focus. I just didn’t know how. Around this time, I had several friends getting into the cosplay scene and many encouraged me to do cosplay and said I’d make an amazing captain america. As fun as that sounded, I wasn’t sure that it would ever happen. Shortly after this, I ran across the story of Lenny Robinson, the route 29 Batman who would go up and down the east coast, visiting kids at children’s hospitals as Batman. I loved his story so much that it got me thinking – if Batman can do this, then maybe Captain America could too. This is where the idea for Cap for Kids sprouted. So I made a Captain America cosplay and initially started out by raising funds for Children’s Hospital Colorado & Brent’s Place. Then in 2015, with the help of some good friends, we formalized the cause as a nonprofit corporation and filed for our 501(c)(3) status. Since then we’ve been growing and growing. We’ve sponsored dozens of families – mostly in and around Colorado but also in California and Texas. It’s worth noting that we’re an entirely volunteer organization. No one at Cap for Kids collects a paycheck. The opposite is true. Most of the operating costs come out of the pockets of the board members and our staff volunteers. We do this so that when people actually donate to our organization, 100% of those funds can go to the programs that matter. It’s not been an easy journey but it’s also not been as difficult as I thought it would be. The best thing I learned in all of this is that there are good people out there. People who want to help others and are willing to donate their time and their money to a good cause.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My go-tos are Red Rocks, as it’s super famous around the world, Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes), 16th street mall, and you can’t forget Casa Bonita hahaha! Most of my friend from out of town are usually astonished to learn that it’s a real place (not just something made up in South Park). I always say they have to go. It’s part of the experience. ;P And there are SO MANY great restaurants in LoDo, LoHi, and well, all over the metro area.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to shout out to Allen Browning, Family Services Director at Brent’s Place. He has been such an amazing guide and mentor and really helped our organization focus in a way that has the most impact for cancer-fighting kiddos. Additionally, Allen has been a great partner at Brent’s place in helping us identify potential families to sponsor. We adore him and are so thankful to him for the help, guidance and partnership that he’s provided us.