Making a Difference: Dynamic Duo Don Schaaf and Sherry Cushman

Dec. 03, 2018, 1:31 p.m. (ET)
Making a Difference: Dynamic Duo Don Schaaf and Sherry Cushman

Photo: Sherry Cushman, Olympic silver medalist Lauren Gibbs, Don Schaaf

 
by Mark Fairchild

Don Schaaf and Sherry Cushman are not only partners as USABS Board Members, but are also partners in life. They are the only married couple serving simultaneously on a USOC board, but it is their impact on the sports of bobsled and skeleton that has provided them the most recognition. 

When introduced to USABS, the extent of Don and Sherry’s knowledge on the sport was from past Olympic Games and, of course, the movie “Cool Runnings.” Yet, their admiration for the sport and its athletes have kept them inspired and engaged since joining the team. 

Both Don and Sherry have 33 years experience in their respective fields. Don, president of marketing and advertising agency Don Schaaf & Friends, Inc., has developed his expertise in branding while working with top brands in motorsports and NASCAR. Sherry is a leader in commercial real estate, managing 350 brokers in the Legal Sector Advisory Group for Cushman & Wakefield

Don got involved with the team nearly eight years ago, when colleague and then USABS board member Ted Offit recruited his branding expertise to aid in fundraising prior to the Vancouver Games. The success of his efforts landed him a unanimous spot on the board. Since his election, Don has helped raise funds for the team in the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars, in addition to creating branding campaigns for Sochi, Pyeongchang, and most recently Beijing. His wife, Sherry, did not join the team until prior to the Pyeongchang Games. Sherry, with experience working alongside the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, in which she has helped raise a total of $6-7 million, immediately became an asset to USABS. After working hand-in-hand with BMW’s fundraising team on an event cosponsored with USABS, Sherry helped raise $400,000.

For Don, making sure the team has sufficient funds to operate has been his number one goal throughout his tenure.

“We have to be properly funded first and foremost so that we can focus on the team,” says Don.

As without proper financial support, USABS could have the greatest athletes in the world, but would fail to produce if they do not have the tools they need to win. In the coming years, Sherry seeks to further Don’s goal of properly funding the team, as well as focusing on athlete welfare.

“Give people the tools they need to succeed,” says Sherry, reaffirming a motto for her brokerage. “If your producers aren't happy then the organization will fail.”

In addition, Sherry is making it a mission to further engage youth with both bobsled and skeleton, sports that have in recent years demonstrated promise and popularity across the United States.

“We want to create an environment where young kids want to come and actually become a bobsled or skeleton athlete by choice, not by default.” To do this, Sherry plans on organizing promotional events in the future.

For both Don and Sherry, being a part of USABS has been an enriching experience to say the least. Not only has it provided them the opportunity to be a part of something greater than themselves, but the work they have done has made them more well-rounded, and displayed their passion and commitment to the work they do. Working alongside USABS greats, there is no doubt the Olympic mentality has rubbed off on each of them, who have brought back the competitive attitude to their companies, inspiring the work they and their employees produce everyday.