YPDaily: Paul Etherington

Charming and driven, Paul Etherington is a force to be inspired by. In 2002 while working full-time in the insurance industry, along with his 2 brothers, Paul spearheaded motionball a nationwide philanthropic movement in support of Special Olympics. 8 years later motionball has raised over 1.8 million dollars for Special Olympics and engaged thousands of supporters. Get to know Paul Etherington. 

Notable: What is your Name and age?
Paul: Paul Etherington; 33

Notable: What is the name of your business and what industry is it in? How can we find out more online?
Paul: My official business is Etherington Generations and we are a privately held insurance consulting boutique based in Toronto that specializes in employee and executive benefits; personal life insurance and estate planning and planned giving (www.teg.ca); however what I would like to talk about today is the not for profit purely volunteer run organization that my brothers and I started back in November of 2002 called motionball (www.motionball.com).

Notable: Elevator Pitch (we just met on an elevator, we have 30 seconds together in the elevator, please describe your business):
Paul: motionball’s mission is to introduce the next generation of donors; volunteers and sponsors to the Special Olympics movement through integrated social and sporting events. 1% of all Canadians are born with an intellectual disability and right now Special Olympics Canada is doing an incredible job in supporting 10% of this population. However, through greater awareness and fundraising efforts we want to bridge this support gap to the remaining 90% of Canadians with an intellectual disability who could benefit from Special Olympics programs.

Right now motionball is running 12 annual events in 6 major cities across Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa; Montreal; Halifax). These events provide incredible value for our 10’s of thousands of loyal supporters across Canada while also promoting the concept of integration with our Special Olympic athletes.

To date we have donated $1.8m to the Special Olympics Canada Foundation and by 2014 we will be donating $1m annually.

It is important to note that motionball’s success is a direct result of the 15 National Event Directors we have across Canada who sacrifice their time and energy towards bettering our movement, as well as the hundreds of loyal volunteers who help run our events each year, and the 10’s of thousands of loyal participants who buy tickets; put in teams and make donations. 

Notable: Why did you start motionball, what was the inspiration?
My parents have always stressed the importance of giving back to your community and to those less fortunate and have been incredible role models to my brothers and I (proud to say that my Father received the Order of Canada for his volunteer work back in 2005). At an early age we were introduced to the Special Olympics movement and when the 3 brothers all graduated from University we agreed it was time to launch our own not for profit that focused on getting the next generation engaged in this incredible movement.

Notable: What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Paul: If you were to ask any of the motionball team members what their greatest reward is from this volunteer work I am sure they would say that it is the interaction they have with the Special Olympic athletes themselves at our events. Their smiles are truly infectious and to hear the appreciation from their mouths as well as their parents for the support we provide is enough to get anyone engaged in the movement. 

Notable: What is the most challenging part of your business?
Paul: Our biggest challenge is securing corporate support. We have been truly fortunate over the course of our existence to bring on some incredible National Presenting Sponsors (including Sun Life Financial and AIR MILES) as well as local sponsors in each chapter. However in order to reach our lofty financial targets it is paramount that we continue to attract and retain Corporate Sponsors. There are over 90,000 not for profits in Canada alone – all with great stories and mandates.

Notable: Where do you see motionball going in 5 years?
There are too many Canadians who are unaware of the difference between Parolympics (physically disabled athletes) and Special Olympics (intellectually disabled) and as motionball’s slogan is EDUCATE, INTEGRATE, CELEBRATE we hope that as we grow across this great country of ours that more and more Canadians will better understand what the Special Olympics movement is all about and hopefully find the time and have the interest to join us. In 5 years, I also know that motionball will be a PASSION brand all across Canada representing not only the Special Olympics movement but also the concept of bringing fun back into giving!

Notable: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Determine what lasting legacy you want to leave on this earth and don’t let anyone get in your way. Life is too short for distractions and excuses. As the infamous Wesley Williams (Maestro Fresh Wes) best put it – “stick to your vision”!

Notable: What is your greatest asset as it relates to business?
Paul: Tenacity and personability are likely my two greatest business strengths.

Notable: What does success look like to you?
Success to me includes a healthy and happy family life; strong rooted friendships surrounding me and an overall sense of purpose in life.

Notable: What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Paul: When I talk about accomplishments and milestones it would have to be the birth of my 2 healthy beautiful girls Skylar and Sloane. However, with respect to motionball specifically – it would be the successful launch into 6 cities across Canada; and specifically the upcoming launch into Montreal officially making us a truly national organization/brand!

Notable: What is Notable to you?
NOTABLE is anything out of the ordinary – preferably with good intention and purpose