The Power of Persistence: Howard’s Team Recognized for Positive Impact
At Gray, we believe in family. This core value is reflected in everything that we do. Whether in good times or bad, in the Gray Family, we are always there for one another. When long–time president and now chief storytelling officer, Howard Gray, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) nearly 40 years ago, the Gray Family stood right alongside him. All these years later, this support never wavered.
In fact, over the years, this support has only grown stronger. This year, Howard’s Team, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed in 2008 to honor Howard and his battle with MS, received the Hope Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for its contributions in creating a world free of MS. Over the past 14 years, the team has raised more than $2 million, and they’re not finished yet.
Inspired to Act
It was almost as if fate had a say when Jay McCabe, a long-time friend of Gray West President Bob Moore, was invited by his sister to join her on the Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour—an annual cycling event that raises money and awareness for those battling multiple sclerosis. During that first event in 2005, they raised more than $1,000 for the MS Society.
But, in the following years, Jay became more involved in the MS Society efforts, and he noticed Bob donating each year “in the name of Howard Gray.” That’s when Jay heard Howard’s story.
After his father, James Norris Gray, passed away in 1972, Howard took over as president of Gray at the young, but ambitious, age of 23. Amid financial struggles and uncertainty, Howard led the company to become a nationally recognized construction firm with a commitment to safety, customer satisfaction, fairness, and the Golden Rule: to treat others the way we want to be treated.
Howard has fought his MS diagnosis for decades with his unique enthusiasm and brave optimism, but not by himself. Compelled and inspired, Jay and Bob formed Howard’s Team with an ambition to end MS and support their friend, along with so many others.
“The main reason I agreed to join Gray in 2001 was Howard Gray and the values he espoused and lived,” says Bob. “As co-captain [of Howard’s Team], I am passionate about our vision to end MS and be the team for MS Champions and their families. For Jay and me, Howard’s Team is our calling.”
It has become a calling for many others as well. In its first year, Howard’s Team raised $19,372 with only 12 members. Since then, dozens have joined the team, raising around $2.5 million to-date.
“I am continually inspired by Howard Gray and all our MS Champions who have made the decision to face this disease with courage,” says Jay. “It’s for them, and everyone impacted by this disease, that I will continue to work to achieve our mission.”
Hope for a Cure
Accolades are never the mission, but recognition can serve as encouragement for a battle that is ahead.
At this year’s annual National MS Society Auction, Bob and Jay–along with Howard’s brother Stephen Gray, President & CEO of Gray, Inc., and children Carl Gray, Keturah Gray, Mary Bruce Gray Alford, and Rebekah Gray–accepted the Hope Award on behalf of Howard’s Team.
The award signifies progress for the team, but it represents even more to Howard and his family.
“The extraordinary fundraising efforts combined with the Hope Award is exactly that: hope,” says Howard Gray. “Hope for those battling with MS.”
“The Hope Award is the highest award presented by the MS Society for community and humanitarian efforts,” says Rebekah, Howard’s daughter and a project executive at Gray. “I cannot think of a more deserving individual than my father, but of course, I’m biased!
“Howard’s Team reaching and exceeding their goal, to me, is a testament to the dedication and leadership of Bob Moore and Jay McCabe in helping to improve the quality of life for those living with MS, and I am forever grateful.”
Rebekah has been participating with Howard’s Team for the past 10 years and working directly with the local chapter in Kentucky. Carl, her brother, will join Howard’s Team for the Bike MS: Bluegrass Bourbon Ride in the summer of 2022. And her sisters have also volunteered their time and resources—joining the greater Gray Family in fighting for not only their father, but also those living with the disease around the world.
“I believe it shows our common values of doing good and looking out for others,” says Rebekah. “The Gray community is very giving of their time, energy, and money toward philanthropic goals.
“While I wish that my father was the only Gray team member fighting this disease, he is not, so I think participating in MS-related events is showing our support for our greater Gray Family.”
For Bob Moore, it’s a blessing to see all of the hard work make a difference.
“I don’t know if I can ever give Howard Gray what I feel he has given me by being a friend, but I do know our efforts have made a tremendous difference to many people,” he says.
The Power of Persistence
Jay views the award recognition as an opportunity to increase awareness for the work that is still needed to create a world free of MS.
“It’s rarely the heroic one-time efforts that create any lasting impact. More often, it’s the consistent, steady approach that makes lasting change,” he says.
“For Howard’s Team, we’ve always said that we will keep riding and fundraising until we have a cure for MS. To make a commitment like that, you need persistence.”
Howard’s Team has lived by this approach from day one. Hundreds of volunteers have committed their valuable time, money, and resources to find a cure.
Each mile ridden, dollar donated, and hour spent has made an impact.
“Since my father was diagnosed in 1984, the scientific advancements have grown exponentially. I firmly believe that these accomplishments are a direct result of fundraising activities like Bike MS,” says Rebekah.
“For those that have participated in the various Bike Rides and other fundraising events with the MS Society, I want to say thank you. Thank you for putting your time and effort into a cause that is finding a cure, supporting families in need, and providing programs to help those living with MS. It is a critical and worthy organization.”
Howard says he is humbled to see how far his team has come.
“Howard’s Team is not just for me. It’s for all of those troubled with this disease. MS and me, we don’t always get along as best friends, but like it or not, it has become my constant companion,” he says.
“I did not ask for it, but I’m determined to whoop it! I’m still moving forward, just not as fast as I’d like. Howard’s Team is going to keep on keeping on for those like me. I love these people!”
To learn more about Howard’s Team and how you can help, visit http://howardsteam.org/.