Advisors recognized for investing in others
Duane Chaney’s work in healthcare and Michael J. Martin’s work in Haiti were both celebrated at the 2020 Invest in Others Awards.
Finding strength through adversity unites the two Raymond James advisors honored for their philanthropy this year. They told their inspirational giving stories at the 2020 Invest in Others Awards, demonstrating the firm’s core value of integrity and upholding our commitment to volunteerism and giving back.
For Duane Chaney, it was the discovery of an inoperable brain tumor in his 3-year-old niece that propelled him into action. Chaney, of Arch Capital Advisory Group of Raymond James in Fort Myers, Florida, created the event Madisen’s Match, using his love for his niece and tennis to raise more than a million dollars for Lee Health Foundation. The money raised has helped families like his battling pediatric cancer.
For Michael J. Martin, the story of a mission trip volunteer whose life was cut tragically short by the 2010 Haiti earthquake inspired him to give back. The parents of Britney Gengel built a 19,000-square-foot earthquake-proof orphanage in Grand-Goâve, Haiti, to honor their daughter’s memory through their nonprofit, Be Like Brit. Martin, of ELM Wealth Management of Raymond James in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been a passionate supporter of Be Like Brit since its inception.
Integrity in action
Each advisor’s charity was awarded $45,000 from the Invest in Others Foundation during its September awards ceremony. Chaney and Martin won in the Community Service and Global Impact categories. Hal Lynde of Lynde Wealth Management Group of Raymond James in Houston, Texas, was a finalist in the Lifetime Achievement category for his work with Houston Furniture Bank, winning $15,000 for his chosen charity.
Four more of the firm’s advisors received honorable mentions, including:
- Shelly Church, Concierge Wealth Management of Raymond James, for her work with the American Heart Association
- Harris Nydick, CFS Investment Advisory Service, LLC, for his work with Just One Africa
- Todd Sanford, Sanford Financial Services, for his work with Haworth College of Business, Department of Finance & Commercial Law, Western Michigan University
- Gary Weiss, Weiss Wealth Strategies of Raymond James, for his work with Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center (Martin Pear JCC)
Winners were selected based on the advisor’s leadership, dedication, contribution, inspiration and impact on a nonprofit and the community it serves. Three finalists are selected in each of the five categories with one winner being chosen for each award.
Motivated by Madisen
Duane Chaney’s mission began with a family crisis – doctors discovered a tumor in his niece Madisen’s brain stem. Chemotherapy followed, with the tumor in an inoperable spot. Her battle against her brain tumor inspired Chaney to raise money to help other adults and children being treated for cancer in Southwest Florida.
Drawing on his love of tennis, he created Madisen’s Match in 2008. “What started as a little tennis exhibition with 50 people watching grew into a large-scale exhibition with 2,000-plus in an arena,” Chaney said in a video for the Invest in Others Awards. Nearly 12 years later, his niece is still a part of the event, which has raised more than $1.3 million for Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“Madisen’s 16th birthday is coming up … and although she has had some health challenges, she has defied the odds,” Chaney said.
His philanthropy is a study in using what you’re passionate about, in this case tennis and finding a cure, to achieve change. “Using the sport as a mechanism to raise money is my way to make a statement in life and help others beyond anything else I can do,” he said.
“To be considered with this class of advisors and be chosen as the winner for being a person who values giving back to their community is a real honor.”
Finding inspiration in Brit’s mission
“To me, it felt like it was a calling.” That’s how Martin describes getting involved with Be Like Brit, a nonprofit that serves orphaned children in Grand-Goâve, Haiti, by providing a safe, nurturing home rooted in the virtues of faith, hope and love.
Len and Cherylann Gengel created Be Like Brit to honor the memory of their daughter Britney, who died in the 2010 Haiti earthquake while serving on a mission trip. In her last contact with her family, Britney said she wanted to open an orphanage. In the wake of her death, her parents set out to do just that in a new facility built to withstand an earthquake.
“To take their darkest moment in life and turn it into something so positive is amazing to me,” Martin said in a video for the Invest in Others Awards. He was present at the dedication of the Brit’s Home facility in 2013, and has participated in regular “Britsionary” trips since 2016. That year, he contributed to home rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which caused $2.8 billion in damage and claimed hundreds of lives.
Martin is passionate about the work this group is doing. “They build homes, they provide fresh water for the community. I really believe that they’re going to bring all of Haiti up.”
To learn more about the Invest in Others Foundation, go to investinothers.org.