by Nathan Gonzalez – Jun. 4, 2008 05:55 PM
The Arizona Republic
What started as a team-building exercise for a group of Procter & Gamble employees turned into a surprise set of gifts for deserving Valley children.
About 135 Procter & Gamble employees from throughout the country gathered Tuesday at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, where they assembled the bikes as part of a team-building exercise during a corporate training session.
None knew where the bikes would end up, until about 30 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix were led into the ballroom.
Procter & Gamble retail executive Ashlee Watts and her team assembled Tony Harper’s black bicycle.
“We were just crying,” Watts said of the many shocked co-workers in the audience. “It was just so beautiful.”
The bikes were awarded as part of Life Cycles, a program developed by the international team-building company Odyssey Teams, which conducts philanthropic workshops.
Based in Chico, Calif., Odyssey began using philanthropy as a team-building exercise for companies more than 7 years ago, said Todd Demorest, lead facilitator conducting Tuesday’s workshop.
Through programs like the Life Cycles seminar, participants learn to work together as they develop a product aimed at a particular client.
That’s where the bikes come in.
“For some people, the exercise is just meant to have fun, but we want to tie it in to what they have been learning,” Demorest said.
Dave Hughes, senior vice president for Procter & Gamble Prestige, participated in the exercise. It was a first for the company and a pleasant surprise, he said.
“It tied in with the theme of the workshop: Respect. These are our future customers and clients,” Hughes said of the kids.
“I’m really pleased all our work that was done would go to a great cause.”
Procter & Gamble Prestige Products is the luxury-goods division of the company and includes such products as Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Hugo Boss, Gucci and Escada.
But there was only one product the 30 children seemed interested in Tuesday: shiny new bicycles.
Seven-year-old Felicity Harper, her twin sister Shaylynn and brother Tony, 8, struggled to hold back their excitement after receiving the bikes.
When released, young Felicity quickly found her pink Diamondback bicycle, complete with pink and white streamers, and hopped on.
“I can ride!” she said, steering her way through a crowded ballroom filled with equally surprised executives and employees.
“I’ve never had a bike,” Felicity said, shortly before scurrying off to give hugs to her brother and sister.
“It’s nice,” Tony said, noting that he had outgrown his old bike.