Volunteering a passion for Rick Beaudin

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Like most of the people involved in the Livingston County Chapter of the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life event, it’s deeply personal for Rick Beaudin.

When his father died from pancreatic cancer in 1993, Beaudin became involved in the Macomb County Chapter of the American Cancer Society. Those were the days of the Great American Lock-up, an event that rounded up community luminaries and business people and “jailed” them until they raised enough bail money from friends and associates to earn their release.

Beaudin, 55, who worked in the family office furniture and supply business, turned his community contacts into enough donations to be one of the top fundraisers in the Metro Detroit area each year. He also served on the Macomb chapter’s board of directors.

When he moved to Hamburg Township in 1998 after selling the family business, Beaudin looked to join the board of the local cancer society.

“We don’t have a board,” was the answer. “We just do Relay for Life.”

And so Beaudin threw himself into the annual fundraiser that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. He recruits and develops teams for the event and serves as one of its media contacts. He was also instrumental in developing an in-newspaper special section with the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus; the section garnered a national award from the American Cancer Society.

He also got local radio station WHMI 93.5 involved in Relay for Life.

“The event got a lot of exposure because of my media contact,” said Beaudin, who also came up with a unique fundraiser for the organization: an annual 50th birthday party for himself at the Barnstormer restaurant on M-36 in Hamburg Township.

He’s thrown the 50th birthday party for himself the past six years, inviting everyone he knows to attend for a $10 donation to the Livingston County Chapter of the American Cancer Society. The owner of the Barnstormer provides free appetizers.

“Everyone comes, dances and helps a charity,” Beaudin said. The event, which made $1,900 the first time, regularly pulls in over $1,000 a year. Just over a hundred people came out this year to wish Beaudin a happy birthday and help the cancer society.

Beaudin is involved in a host of other activities, including selling raffle tickets at Pinckney High School football and basketball games as the Pinckney Pirate to raise funds for the district’s athletic boosters.

Over the years, Beaudin’s efforts — rather, the Pinckney Pirate’s efforts — have raised well over $20,000 for the district’s athletic booster organization.

Beaudin’s incarnation as the Pinckney Pirate is a local sensation. Besides selling raffle tickets, the Pirate marches in parades and appears at local events, including spaghetti dinners.

“Everyone knows the Pirate,” Beaudin said.

He tells the story of renting a house to a young woman with a couple of kids.

“How did you come to me?” Beaudin asked.

“You’re the Pirate!” was the reply.

Beaudin capitalizes on his alter ego (“At times, I think I should get my own PR firm,” he said). His website is PinckneyPirate.com, and he features himself in the pirate get-up, including the hat with the long, black hair on it, in his materials. (Anyone who’s met Beaudin appreciates the irony in the outfit: Beaudin’s own head is shaved bald and shiny.)

Beaudin embraces the technological revolution, using social media to market himself, and you can find him interacting and posting information regularly on Facebook.

Beaudin also serves on the Pinckney-Lakeland-Hamburg-Hell Division of the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers for a slew of annual events, from the wildly popular Smokin’ Jazz & Blues Festival in downtown Brighton to running the Pinckney Business Expo this year. He was also one of the movers and shakers behind the “Shop and Dine M-36” campaign to promote businesses in the southeast part of Livingston County.

“We wanted local folks to know they didn’t have to drive outside the local area to get what they needed,” he said.

Beaudin also approaches his real estate business differently than other agents. The Zukey Lake resident concentrates on his hometown Pinckney/Hamburg Township area and rents his own office space in the community.

“I’m the only agent in the county that rents his own spot,” Beaudin said, “but it’s what I consider my territory.

“I can do business anywhere, but I concentrate basically in the Pinckney school district. Seventy-five percent of my income comes from there.”

He’s also a distressed property expert and was the Michigan Group’s No. 1 agent in 2008, prior to the company’s merger with RE/MAX.

While Beaudin loves his work in real estate, he lives and breathes his work in the community. Karma has them intertwined, and despite Beaudin’s success at selling homes, it’s clear where his true love lies.

“I get business because of my community volunteering,” Beaudin said. “But I don’t volunteer in the community to get business.”

Volunteering to support his community is a way of life for Beaudin.

“I’d be doing it all whether I was selling real estate or not,” he said. “If I were independently wealthy, I’d be a professional volunteer.”

About Maria Stuart 212 Articles
Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as a reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse. You can check out her website by clicking here.