Have you seen your toilet lately?
If you’ve been driving around Miami Springs or Virginia Gardens the last three weeks and happened to notice a couple of toilets — one decorated purple and the other pink — sitting in a front yard somewhere, do not pick up your phone and call the Springs or VG Code Enforcement Departments.
In what probably has to be one of the most creative ways any Relay for Life team has ever devised to raise RFL funds, the Diamonds in the Sky fundraising team set up one doozy of a clever program called “Flushing Out Cancer.”
“When we had a fundraising meeting in late January, (Relay for Life chair) Susan Baan mentioned that she had seen it done in other cities and wondered if it would be a good idea for our area,” said RFL co-chair Gisela Kelly, who is also the Diamonds in the Sky co-captain along with Karl Bithorn. “Knowing how Miami Springs and VG are such close-knit, small town communities, we thought it was something that just might work, and were we ever right!”
The idea is simple. If you wake up one morning and find that toilet sitting in your front yard, that means someone you know has decided to have it “dumped” in your front yard.
The only way to have it removed is if you pay $10 to the team. Want to have it removed and sent to someone else’s yard? That would cost you $20. Want to have it sent somewhere else and be assured of it not turning up in your yard again? Dig a little further into your pocket. Thirty bucks.
“We call that toilet insurance,” said Bithorn.
And the first guinea pig?
Who better than Miami Springs’ own city manager, Ron Gorland.
Gorland was at the meeting that day when the idea was discussed, so he knew of the fundraising idea, but what he didn’t know was that his Pinecrest Drive home would be the first to be “decorated” with the porcelain throne.
“I think it was Billy Bain that was the first to pay and had it sent to Ron’s house,” said Bithorn. “The best part was that Ron tried to pay the $30 to have sent back to Billy but Billy already had bought the old toilet insurance. So Ron had it sent to Mark Bain’s house and everything kind of took off from there.”
“I don’t know when I’ve been happier to get a toilet delivered to my front lawn,” said Gorland, laughing. “What an absolute terrific idea and great gesture on the part of the Relay for Life folks to create such a great fundraising idea. And, yeah, I was disappointed I couldn’t get Billy back but at least I got Mark. I had to make sure I got one of the Bains.”
“What’s been really great about all of this is how well the community has reacted in general,” Kelly said. “Everyone has actually embraced it and had such a sense of humor about it that it speaks volumes for the community that we live in that everyone can reach out like this for such a good cause.”
According to Bithorn, the number of front yard toilet drop-offs so far is approaching 20 and the amount of money raised is closing in on $1,000.
“How could you go through this without giving those toilets a nickname, so they’ve each got one,” said Bithorn. “The pink one is pinky and I called the purple one Barney because of the children’s character dinosaur, who was purple.”
At first there was no sign to go with the toilets explaining things, but the gag was still localized among friends like the Bains and the Gorlands. But after Mayor Zavier Garcia donated some nice, polished professional-looking signs, one was left with each toilet on the front yards clearly explaining the purpose and the rules.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Bithorn. “To think we weren’t sure how this would go off at the beginning to the point now where the thing has practically gone viral. It tells you everything you need to know about the people in this community and why we’re all so proud to live here.”
And the deadline for “front-yard toilet dumping” is still a long ways off. In fact, anyone can get in on the action all the way up until the day of the actual Relay for Life event, Saturday, March 15.
Until then, look out!
Bithorn confirmed that he still has addresses on his confirmed list and is “checking it twice,” so if you haven’t gotten your toilet delivered yet, you might be next.
Got someone in mind? Contact Bithorn at 305-318-6995 or Kelly at 786-271-1964 and they’ll be happy to make sure your designated person gets a surprise delivered to their front yard.