Members of the Museum of Modern Art team gather for a photo in Central Park at a recent J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. MoMA's team has grown to 60 members for this year's Corporate Challenge, to be held on June 4 and 5 in Central Park.
Corporate Challenge goals resonate with Museum of Modern Art, Ford Foundation
NEW YORK, April 23, 2014 — As New York gears up for the full capacity 2014 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge®, the guiding principle that drove the first Central Park race in 1977 remains as relevant as ever.
The Corporate Challenge mission of promoting health and camaraderie in the workplace is important to teams such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Ford Foundation, just as it was for the 50 teams and 200 runners who assembled in Central Park 37 years ago for the first 3.5-mile event in Central Park. That modest start has led to 600 companies and 30,000 total entrants that will be on the West Drive starting line June 4 and 5.
“Health is a primary focus for everyone these days, so most people on our staff are very active,” said Nancy Read, Director of Administrative Services at MoMA, who is serving as company captain for the third year and has seen her team grow to 60 members. “This race is a fun way to pull those people together. There is a cross section of employees on our team, which demonstrates the popularity of the program and builds camaraderie within the museum. We expect the program to continue to grow.
“Our HR Dept. holds a Staff Health Fair every year to provide people with testing for physical health (glucose level, heart rate monitoring, BMI, etc.) and with information about the services covered in our health benefits package,” Read added. “One of our on-site initiatives is to provide ergonomic tools (proper chairs, keyboard trays, monitor arms, etc.) in the workspaces to assist in alleviating issues that can occur when working in an office.”
For Suzie Lee, a first-year team captain, the situation is similar at the Ford Foundation.
“Ford encourages its employees to maintain good health and fitness,” she said. “We have two gym facilities in our office building complete with showers and dressing rooms. We also have a variety of health-conscious food options in our company cafeteria. Ingredients are listed and there is daily availability of fish and salad bar options for those on restricted diets.”
The Corporate Challenge is a way of extending that focus on health, providing a fun incentive to be active. At the same time, the opportunity that the Corporate Challenge provides for a unique out-of-the-office team bonding experience is also important to today’s companies.
MoMA team members in Central Park.
“The Corporate Challenge is a great opportunity to enjoy an outside activity in beautiful Central Park, outside of work, with friends as well as others you haven't met,” said MoMA’s Read. “It is also very cool to participate in such a big New York City event with so many people and so many other organizations. We have some great runners who love the competition!”
Plus, the museum has a unique bonus for its Corporate Challenge members.
“We do pay the fees and have a MoMA t-shirt specially designed by one of our staff,” said Read. “It is always a great design! It is always amazing to be a part of a MoMA team event that contributes to such a great cause.”
At the Ford Foundation, Lee says the Corporate Challenge helps bring together members at the Foundation, which was established on Jan. 15, 1936, with an initial gift of $25,000 from Edsel Ford, whose father Henry, founded the Ford Motor Company. More than three quarters of a century later, the Foundation, headquartered in New York, remains committed to advancing human welfare and provides grants in all 50 states, while supporting programs in more than 50 countries.
“The Corporate Challenge is an opportunity for company employees to reach across departmental barriers and unite as a team,” said Lee. “It is fun for everyone involved. Participants represent a wide range of departments and roles. Colleagues (sometimes) meet each other for the first time (at the race) and enjoy good camaraderie during and after the race. We learn more about other departments and gain the ability to adopt a more holistic view of what our organization does on a daily basis.”
And, there is also the satisfaction felt after the race.
“We are a small team, but the sense of accomplishment at the end of the race is all the greater,” said Lee. “I enjoy our group’s walk over to the restaurant where we eat and drink and celebrate the completion of another Corporate Challenge.”
Just as, no doubt, the teams from the first Corporate Challenge held in Central Park in 1977 also did.