Cheering on Cheeriodicals

Bill Horton, Regions Financial Area President, distributing Cheeriodicals at Children's of Alabama in Birmingham. (contributed)

Bill Horton, Regions Financial Area President, distributing Cheeriodicals at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. (contributed)

By KATIE MCDOWELL/General Manager

Cheeriodicals, the Mt Laurel based gift package company, was founded around the same time I joined the Shelby County Reporter in 2011.

Over the last three years, I have watched this little company make a big difference. Less than two years after Cheeriodicals was founded, I visited founders Mary Martha and Gary Parisher at their office and was struck by the incredible number of magazines, snacks and toys waiting to be packed into the bright green boxes.

I was most impressed by how Cheeriodicals partnered with businesses across the country to give Cheeriodicals to every child in local hospitals. These “charitable giving” days have been held at hospitals in New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville, St. Louis, and, of course, Birmingham.

During a 2012 interview, the Parishers shared that the development of the charitable arm of their business was the fulfillment of a dream.

“We never really anticipated the team building or the Children’s Hospital events to be so huge,” Mary Martha said at the time. “The social responsibility need in the corporate world is really big. People just jump at the option.”

Now, the Parishers to make a bigger impact with that dream. Cheeriodicals is one of six finalists in the annual Alabama Launchpad competition.

A program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation, Alabama Launchpad helps promote and reward high-growth, innovative start-ups from across the state,” according to its website.

During its annual start-up competition, Alabama Launchpad selects up to 25 new businesses or existing businesses looking to move into a “new high-growth market.”

During each phase of the competition – application, pitch, market and final – the participants must submit business plans that are reviewed by a panel of judges, who represent “the investment/angel community, entrepreneurs and corporate stakeholders.”

In addition to Cheeriodicals, the year’s finalists include Blondin Bioscience, LLC, Healthfundit, Alignment Simple Solutions, Smart Party and SpectraCyte.

The winner of this year’s competition, which will receive thousands in grant money, will be announced in late September. All of the finalists are worthy, but I will be pulling for Shelby County’s hometown business to come out on top.

For more information, visit Alabamalaunchpad.com or Cheeriodicals.com.

Katie McDowell is a General Manager for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 536 or by email at katie.mcdowell@shelbycountyreporter.com.