For more than 35 years, ERA Real Estate has been committed to enriching the lives of children and adults living with Muscular Dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases through its support of MDA. In particular, the ERA network has been helping kids living with muscular dystrophy, SMA and related muscle-debilitating diseases have “the best week of the year” at MDA Summer Camp.
In 2015, CEO Charlie Young announced an ambitious goal of sending 1,000 kids to MDA Summer Camp over the next three years. One year into the challenge, ERA has committed to funding more than 670 kids.
Reagan Imhoff, MDA’s National Goodwill Ambassador Emeritus, recently caught up with Charlie and a few hundred other of her ERA pals at the 2016 ERA International Business Conference in Orlando, Fla., where she asked him a few questions about summer camp, travelling and favorite pizza toppings.
Reagan: My favorite part of being an MDA Goodwill Ambassador is traveling and meeting new people. What’s your favorite part of being President of ERA?
Charlie: I’d say that’s my favorite part of my job too. As president and CEO of ERA Real Estate I get to travel all over the United States and even to many countries around the world. I go to big cities like San Francisco and Singapore and I go to small towns across America like Anniston, Alabama or Jackson, Michigan and many others in between. The best part is getting to meet so many great people everywhere I go.
R: You told everyone at the ERA meeting in Orlando that you had a big goal for MDA this year. How many kids are you trying to send to MDA Summer Camp?
C: In March of 2015 we set a goal of sending 1,000 kids to MDA Summer Camp by 2018. So far the affiliates of ERA have committed to send 690 kids to camp. So we are way ahead of schedule and I hope we hit 1,000 in 2017….one year early. You should see how our ERA companies are sending kids to camp. They host raffles, art auctions (I know you love art), bowl-a-thons and even carnivals.
R: You seem to know a lot about kids and summer camp. Did you ever go to a Summer Camp when you were little?
C: I did go to summer camp. I went to a sailing camp in Maine. It was so much fun and I have many good memories. I liked it so much I went back when I was in college and worked as a counselor.
R: What was your favorite part of camp?
C: I loved getting away from my brother and sister and spending so much time outside. It was a real adventure for me.
R: You do a lot to help kids like me. What’s your favorite part about helping MDA?
C: I like knowing we are contributing to giving kids a great experience where they can have tons of fun and make great memories. There is nothing like seeing a smile on a kid’s face. I also like knowing that the experiences that kids have at camp are important to developing them in to grown-ups.
R: If you could be an animal, what would you be? Why?
C: I would be a dog. Dogs get to have fun all day running around getting dirty, digging in the dirt, and getting in to mischief. Then they get to fall asleep (on the couch I hope) and someone scratches their tummy. Usually dogs have a great kid hanging around them too to make things even more fun. Dogs are really smart and useful too. They all have a purpose…some use their noses to find things, others like retrieving stuff, others are good helpers for people with special needs. Hopefully I’d live with a really nice family!
R: What’s your favorite pizza topping?
C: I love pizza and I like almost every topping except pineapple. If I had to pick, I’d say sausage…or mushrooms…or peppers…or…extra cheese. Yum….now I’m hungry.
R: When you were in school, did you like writing or math better?
C: I wasn’t very good at math, so I’d have to say writing. I wish I got extra help with math in school because now I use math all the time in my job and I’ve had to teach myself as an adult. So my advice to kids is that if they don’t like math they should find a way to learn it anyway because they will use math their entire lives.