Alpe d’HuZes: Patients first!

Published by Peter Kapitein on

Our initiative Alpe d’HuZes started in 2006 with 66 bikers who wanted to bike the Dutch mountain Alpe d’Huez in France and make a difference in the fight against cancer. We were aiming for 50,000 euro, but we raised 350,000 euros and were suprised by our succes.

How in the world of cancer and fundraising was this possible?

What started as a one year event, and more or less as a joke, became an annual surprise for the bikers from Alpe d’HuZes and an even bigger surprise for the people that stayed behind in the Netherlands. Each year we doubled or tripled our funds: 1 million in 2007, 3.5 million in 2008, 6 million in 2009, 12 million in 2010 and in 2011 we biked with 4,500 bikers and raised 20 million euros.

Incredible and impossible. But we did it.

And for 2012 we have immediately said that we will raise 30 million euros. Is this even more impossible? Of course it is, but we will do it. Why? Because it’s necessary. Money makes the difference in research and research makes the difference in better treatments and better treatments lead to more patients who will survive or extend their lives with a better quality. And that’s what we need. Each year 90,000 people in the Netherlands are diagnosed with cancer. Each year 40,000 of these patients die and leave behind 400,000 loved ones in tears and sorrow. Patients and their relatives are waiting…

So, why is Alpe d’HuZes so succesfull in fundraising?

Patients first
Alpe d’HuZes gives the patients a face and puts them in the first place. ‘Patients first’ is one of our very important principles. We are able to do so, because we are totally independent. We do not depend on hospitals, research centres, pharmaceutical companies or whatever institutions may play a role in the victory over cancer. In everything we do we always ask the question ‘What’s the benefit for the patient?’ And if the answer isn’t 100 percent crystal clear about these benefits we don’t do it. The projects that we finance always have a great benefit for the patient. That’s what we demand. And when these projects have started we always ask patients who participate to tell us about their experiences. Is this really helping you? And most of the times it is. If not we will change the project. We always tell the patient and the sponsor what the success of their activities and the result of their money is. With respect for al the people that are involved, but in the end we always choose for the patient.

Convert the powerlessness into strength
Alpe d´HuZes was created with the aim to empower people to convert the sense of powerlessness, caused by cancer, into one of strength. We achieve this by motivating as many people as possible to constantly challenge and expand their boundaries. Our motto is “Never, ever quit!” We refuse to accept any limitations in what we can and will achieve. In other words as Muhammed Ali once said: ‘Impossible is nothing’. Alpe d´HuZes will always appeal to those who share our belief – to push their limits. Whether canvassing for sponsors, cycling the famous Alpe d’Huez, organizing a massive event without spending any money, or creating a medical program that will revolutionise health care, they are willing to go where no one has gone before. Each victory, however unrealistic it seemed at first, motivates us to continue to push the limits and set higher targets. We do this not for ourselves, but for those who truly need it.

Do it for other people
Alpe d´HuZes is founded on the absolute belief that you can attain the greatest possible satisfaction if you put your heart and soul into helping others. It’s our belief that lot’s of people have enough from nowadays society, where the only things that counts are money and your personal benefit. People are made and meant for each other. People can’t live without each other. And when you loose a loved one you realize that you are depending and you miss her or him. You loose a little bit of yourself. We go for Martin Luther Kings statement: ‘Life’s most urgent question; What do you do for other people?’.

Now, I gave you three reasons why we are so succesfull in fundraising:

Patients first
Convert the powerlessness into strength
Do it for other people

These are the most important reasons that are embraced by our organization, which totally works with volunteers and has no costs. And that’s the second group of reasons why we are able to double or triple our fundraising each year. When you state that you are doing it for other people and that patients are in the first place you can only work with the best force there is: volunteers. And you can only do the things that have to be done by making no costs and by asking the bikers, volunteers and sponsors to do all the work that has to be done for free.

The reward for our work is never money. Our reward is the most beautiful reward there is: satisfaction. Look into the eyes of a mother that sees her child alive and cured of cancer, and you know for the rest of your life why you are doing this.

Fundraising is all about emotion and the strongest emotion of all is love. You can’t beat love.

Peter Kapitein

Peter Kapitein is Ambassador of Alpe d'HuZes. He is father of two sons, Milo and Jaron. Both sportsmen and two big motivations in life for their father. Actually they are the reason that he could survive the heavy treatments. Peter is also husband and married with Marjolijn. Peter and Marjolijn know and love each other since 1983. Since 2005 Peter lives with cancer and shows other people that cancer is not always a death penalty but also it can be the start of a new and richer life full of chances and beautiful people. A Happy and Healthy life in Harmony with cancer.


Muhwezi Henry · July 22, 2011 at 15:26

Wonderful and inspiring post. Thanks

Brian Wagner · July 22, 2011 at 19:47

Congrats on the awe inspiring story. Funny about timing, I just finished watching today’s ultimate Stage 19 with the climb up the famed Alpe d’Huez which goes right through the infamous “Dutch Corner” that so inspiring.
To continue your awesome efforts have you in past years taken advantage of the annual Grand Tour and bring your cause directly to the people (gorilla street marketing) who line the Dutch Corner during the grand tour? Posting signs along the rocks, flyering the cars and handing info out to the spectators many who are cyclists and would love to ride and conquer that route while helping to make a difference for those living with and fighting for their lives against cancer. What an awesome way to target new potential participants. I’d also pull copy of today’s footage through that region (if possible — maybe try to work with French 2/3 TV station for support) and try to work that into your marketing materials (great for digital communications.)
For 10 years I worked with non-profit and membership groups on their direct marketing programs raising funds and building member databases. Any questions or if you need help with your programs please contact me as I am both a roadie cyclist and direct marketing professional. Good luck!!!!

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