Roche employee in support of the Roche Children’s Walk, the company’s charity event.

Children’s Walk no matter what

2020 showed us just how committed our employees are to their communities

Sittichoke Saisanit of Roche Innovation Center New York, participating in this year's event

Published 02 December 2020

Since 2003, employees across the globe have been coming together to participate in our global fundraising event, the Roche Children’s Walk, which supports the Roche Employee Action and Charity Trust (Re&Act) and local children’s projects.

Due to gathering restrictions, employees from 133 sites in 63 countries found creative ways – ranging from virtual auctions to walking in place – to join forces and raise money for charity. Employees went above and beyond to continue the legacy of the Children’s Walk to continue to fundraise for children who need our support now more than ever.

Social distance in the desert: Tucson, USA

Darlene Buhrow not only built a programme that kept the walk alive, but one that could be shared and used across Roche. Thus motivating us to believe we can do it, restrictions and all!

Roche employee and Tucson’s Children’s Walk Coordinator Darlene Burhow sitting on a rock face during her individual walk to support the Roche Children’s Walk.
Darlene Buhrow completing her Children’s Walk

“With the COVID-19 restrictions, we shook off the sense of defeat and came to the decision that while an in-person Children’s Walk could not happen we could make the event virtual, encouraging employees to walk apart, but together in spirit.

In April, we held a very successful virtual Children's Walk, supporting two local charities. The first, Casa de los Niños, promotes child well-being and family stability and the second, Youth on their Own, provides a lifeline to homeless teenagers, helping them stay in school.

We participate every year because it's a great team building experience for great causes. To engage our employees, we asked them to share a photo ‘walking’ along with a sentence about why they walk for children each year. I was impressed by the participation and fundraising in this virtual experience.

This year, we attempted to coordinate efforts across several additional Roche sites and participate in the walk together despite the physical distances. The mutual fundraising efforts support many more local NGO’s including The Taylor Family Foundation, Pivotal, the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children Jameson Camp and Christel House as well as donations to Roche Employee Action and Charity Trust (Re&Act). Re&Act is a legally independent charity focusing on humanitarian and community rebuilding projects and was designed to harness the resources and know-how of the corporation while garnering the commitment and generosity of Roche individuals and affiliates across the organisation.

It is really important to us to support both a local NGO as well as the many projects through Re&Act. While our local needs certainly increased, we believe it was essential to continue to support the global projects. Those children need us more than ever.

The dedication I’ve witnessed this year brought me back to the real purpose of the Walk and understanding that for us it’s a pause once in the year to think about the smiles of so many. For the children we support, they smile every day because of what we do once a year.”

Big country, big impact: Shanghai, China

Just four months after joining Roche, Rita Lin took on the role of coordination of the Roche Children’s Walk in China.

Rita Lin the Children’s Walk Coordinator in China holds up a sign with text showing her support of the local charity activities.
Rita Lin in the Shanghai office kicking off Children’s Walk in China

“This year was very special for us as it marks the start of the second decade for the Roche Children’s Walk in China. It was my first year participating in the campaign and I was very excited to be part of this meaningful project.

I hoped to continue the spirit of Children's Walk and spread it to more people. At the same time, I knew we faced big challenges this year. Due to the impact of COVID-19, this year was very special to us. We had to keep social distance but we didn't want to lose participation or motivation. So, we came up with the idea to design a diverse virtual campaign.

We encountered many challenges during planning our campaign this year. Our biggest challenge was finding ways to motivate people to participate in the campaign. We needed a way to gather people together without physically gathering people together. We thought the best way is virtual and this way we could make the campaign more diverse.

We made it happen. This year, we extended the Children’s Walk project from a one-day event to an integrated campaign throughout the whole month. A series of initiatives were launched internally and externally in addition to the Walk. We produced a charity music video with the aim to raise the public attention to the children in need. We also launched many employee engagement programmes internally such as, Children’s Walk 10-Year Milestone Exhibition and Livestreaming Charity Sales during the month.

This year, Roche Pharma China donated to Ai You Charitable Foundation to provide financial support for children in need due to poverty and illness. For our virtual walk programme, Roche donated RMB 1 Yuan (0.14 CHF) to the program for every 1,000 steps each participant took, until the goal of walking 1,000 million steps was achieved. Thanks to our enthusiasm and commitment, we successfully reached the goal in just two weeks!

We are so proud that after opening up the event to the public, over 60,000 people participated in the virtual walk and supported us in achieving our goal. Over the past 10 years, we have supported over 1500 children in China. Let’s stay positive, keep going and make a better future with love.”

Custom art for the kids: São Paulo, Brazil

Guilherme Queiroz did not expect to start an international art auction.

A colorful piece of artwork with a child reading was developed and auctioned by Roche Brazil in support of local and global charities.
The Children’s Walk Art piece donated by Marcelus Gill

“I have been working at Roche and on the Roche Children’s Walk for eight years now. We organise ourselves by creating a Children’s Walk project team of volunteers who organise fundraising events for each site in Brazil.

It is important to us that we continue to support the children’s projects through Re&Act and our local project in Brazil. This year we chose to support Núcleo Aprende institution which supports children with learning difficulties. With our team dedicated to finding solutions, we found several engaging ways to fundraise from the comfort of our sofas.

We asked employees to donate their time to teach classes, workshops or talks via zoom. Employees paid around 4CHF to attend virtual classes which would cover anything from Yoga to Business Strategy. I think our employees want to donate their time to the Roche Children’s Walk as we recognise that we are privileged to work at Roche and we feel that we should donate our time and money to help people who are in more need than we are.

We also organised a raffle where the leadership team donated money to buy raffle prizes and more employees reached out to donate some items. Soon after, we received a beautiful surprise as Marcelus Gill, a very talented artist and husband of a local sales rep, made and donated a work of art especially for Children's Walk 2020.

We created a donation page where employees could buy raffle tickets to win the piece of art. We set the goal of reaching R$ 5,000 (837 CHF). We did a little internal promotion on site and posted in the global donations and philanthropy currents page. What came next was unexpected as employees from across the globe donated!

It makes me feel good to participate in the Roche Children’s Walk each year. It is the core of what we do in Roche. We can be proud to work for Roche knowing that we support causes like this.”

A cross-country relay race: Brussels, Belgium

Isabelle Hoet and Anne Peers, as Children’s Walk coordinator and former Children’s Walk Ambassador, rallied their site to walk, run and cycle 2,185km, covering the length of the country over seven times!

A map of Belgium which features the 1977 km of road covered by Roche employees to raise funds for local and global children’s charities.
The tracker from employees’ walk, run and cycle routes

“We are a small site with a huge impact! In total we had 77 participants, who have walked 124 km, run 84 km and biked 1977 km. This initiative was a huge success in this particular period where working from home is encouraged in our country. Colleagues really enjoyed being able to connect with each other.

I took on the role of Children’s Walk coordinator for Roche Pharma Belgium in 2004 when the initiative was first extended to all affiliates. I am personally very committed to the cause so each year, it is a personal target for me to make Children’s Walk successful across Belgium. We do Children’s Walk activities throughout the year and since we have been participating for 16 years, most employees look forward to their favorite activities.

Colleagues always generously participate in all fundraising initiatives, which helps to drive enthusiasm for launching new ones too. We are strongly supported by our Executive Team and are empowered to organise activities as we see the opportunity. We really feel that the Roche Children’s Walk campaign brings added-value to the company spirit.

This year, we were lucky to have already held two Children’s Walk activities before the COVID-19 pandemic broke. We had, however, to cancel some other really successful ones without having any ideas of when or whether these could take place.

We have been supporting the Make-a-Wish foundation for 10 years now and we thought it is important for us to offer them a similar donation amount each year. Thanks to the employees' donations, Make-a-Wish will be able to fulfil the dearest wishes of several seriously ill children currently on their waiting list. The volunteers of both Make-a-Wish organisations are extremely grateful to us for our generosity and will not fail to keep us updated on the wishes they will realise with our donation. It is so rewarding for us to see the dreams of these children become a reality.

Let's continue with our initiatives to raise awareness and money for those important causes we support close to home and across the seas. Thanks to your big heart and amazing generosity, we have beaten our donation record from last year!”

For the kids at home: Lagos, Nigeria

Judith Ogoli and Team Nigeria couldn’t be stopped by COVID-19.

Roche Nigeria Children’s Walk Coordinator Judith Ogoli stands in front of the Heritage Homes, the local charity supported by Roche employees, with the NGO’s Head of Administration.
Judith Ogoli with the Head of Administration for Heritage Homes

“The lockdown posed a risk to this year's Children’s Walk, however, more importantly it threatened our commitment to support and donate to our selected orphanage, Heritage Homes. Following the present pandemic and the lockdown imposed in almost every state in Nigeria, it was a tough decision for us to plan if we would still go ahead with the walk and donation.

This was solely as a result of the state of things around the world and the impact of the pandemic on the economy. There were too many uncertainties and the fear of not placing financial priorities where it is most needed.

We redirected our focus on what is more important which is the fund. So we did just that – donate. Our employees believe in the cause and we were able to raise the funds regardless of so many uncertainties in both our personal and work spaces.

One of the big lessons for us as a team was the realisation that when we set our minds to achieve success, we can still make a significant impact on children's lives even when all odds are against us.

The Children's Walk is a bit personal to me because I can relate to the plight of children who are in need and have little or no hope of getting help. The joy I see in the faces of these children every time we visit any of the orphanages is simply priceless. I find great fulfilment doing this project.

It feels really special to me that despite the pandemic and several related restrictions, we were still able to rally employees and put together our donation so we feel fulfilled even without holding a traditional Roche Children’s Walk. This is our 4th year of participation in Nigeria and as part of our commitment to give back to society we are devoted to supporting children who are less fortunate.”

Better than before: Jakarta, Indonesia

Rahmadyati Setianingrum was worried about raising enough funds to continue to support their local NGO through the Roche Children’s Walk.

The Children’s Walk organising team in Indonesia gathered in a group shot with bright Children’s Walk branding.
The Children’s Walk team in Indonesia

“This year was very different! Due to the pandemic, we only had a very short time to prepare and fundraise. This year's biggest challenge was creating the virtual walk for the first time. After careful consideration for the COVID-19 situation, we decided to create ‘the Children’s Walk New Normal Campaign,’ where we encourage employees to share photos of themselves outdoors and wearing a mask. This year was also very special because we celebrated the event on the same date as the National Children's Day, July 23rd.

This year was also the first time we were doing it virtually and no matter how great the technology is, it still cannot beat human interaction. However, the pandemic didn’t stop us from showing our true commitment and support to give back to the community by making a difference to children’s lives.

We invited employees and also our beneficiary, Yayasan Kanker Anak Indonesia (YKAKI), to join with our Virtual Roche Children’s Walk 2020. They provide holistic support, housing, transportation and educational support to thousands of underprivileged children suffering from cancer. This year has been the 8th year for Roche Indonesia to support YKAKI.

This year has also been a hard year for YKAKI. Due to the pandemic, they are receiving fewer donations than normal. That’s why Roche Indonesia felt that we could not leave them during this hard time. To raise funds, we held many exciting virtual fundraising activities that saw engagement both internally and externally.

We sold Children’s Walk merchandise, raised donations via donation e-voucher, held a virtual auction called "Sharing Hopes," and also facilitated buy and sell activities by our employees. All of the funds we raised go toward children's initiatives related to education, nutrition, primary healthcare, and social development in Indonesia.

Thanks to our dedicated employees, we were able to maintain our commitment to them and to the Roche Children’s Walk. Fundraising this year was a massive success for my affiliate and we raised a higher amount than last year, despite the COVID-19 situation and we were doing it by virtual means! We believe that every child has the equal right to quality education, nutrition, primary healthcare and social development.

We felt so blessed that we are able to make a real impact on our children, especially during this pandemic. We are very excited to welcome next year's Children’s Walk.

Let's Go!”

Tags: People, Society, Philanthropy, We are Roche, Sustainability