By Sarah Rosenblum
Inspired by his older brother Ben’s autism, Dan Tartar ‘05 decided that he wanted to make a difference his senior year. With the idea for an autism fundraiser where the participants rollerblade to raise awareness as a driving force, Rolling for Autism was created. Rolling for Autism was rooted at Union, but its message went viral well beyond Schenectady.
Eventually, events were being held to support the effort in 15 different states with thousands of people, and the effort was covered through national media outlets such as Good Morning America. Once Tartar realized the momentum that the fundraiser was developing, his team formed a nonprofit organization, ADK Charities, the purpose of which was to provide the behind-the-scenes support—financial, marketing, logistics, public relations—necessary to carry out a large fundraising effort.
While Rolling for Autism is long gone, ADK Charities still works behind-the-scenes to support numerous philanthropic efforts and has helped make major contributions in areas such as health care and disease, third-world poverty, refugee support in war torn countries, child abuse and medical research.
‘While ADK Charities has provided me with some great opportunities and amazing memories, it has never been a source of income. Accordingly, I started the ADK Group, a full-service marketing and business development agency headquartered in Boston. The ADK Group is my day-to-day job, and its what pays my bills,” said Tartar.
ADK Charities is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Dan presently sits on the board of the organization.
Rolling for Autism had tremendous Union involvement. The four skaters that did the entire 2,000-mile trip were all Tartar’s fellow Union classmates, as was the majority of the behind-the-scenes support crew.
“In total, I would guess there were easily over 100 Union students, faculty, alumni, coaches, parents, etc., that drove the fundraiser to success,” he said.
While many of his Union classmates may have gone to work in a law or doctor’s office, on Wall Street or even on to graduate school, Tartar’s sentiments towards a desk job are not entirely typical. “I think too many kids come out of college and settle into a desk too quickly,” said Tartar.
His unusual line of work allows him access to opportunities that may not be made available to someone sitting behind their desk all day.
‘Through my work, I’ve been able to do some pretty cool things. I spend about 10% of my time working in Asia,” he said. “I am a partner in an environmentally responsible kids shoe company that is coming to market next year, I’ve taught classes at Babson College and Northeastern University, and I’ve rollerbladed across the country.”
Tartar credits the Union community for being an out-of-the-box thinking environment as the source of his driven attitude.
Today, Tartar’s nonprofit organization continues to work behind-the-scenes to support many unique charities and has significant Union involvement.
“We recently raised $20,000 towards funding healthcare initiatives in Haiti and are currently involved with an effort lead by Alex Sparks ’08 with the aim at raising awareness and money towards Frontal Temporal Dementia (FDR). All of these philanthropic efforts have a strong and loyal Union contingent behind them,” Tartar said.
As a psychology major and member of the ice hockey team, Tartar regards himself as “one of the many examples of former students finding ways to take the skill sets developed through a major at Union, such as psychology, and using them every day in the business world.” He proves that “you don’t need a marketing degree to succeed in marketing.”