Elizabeth and Brian Harrington’s stroke of luck
Brian and Elizabeth Harrington in their recently renovated home that was nearly destroyed by an electrical fire in 2015.
Photo by Rana Faure
It was 1993, Brian was 28 and had just landed his job in the New York office of the sports and entertainment agency IMG, and Elizabeth was 23 and had just started working in IMG’s Los Angeles office.
Brian Harrington was from an Irish Catholic family in Yonkers, son of the prominent lawyer William Harrington, and younger brother to Bill Harrington, who achieved some notoriety scoring over 1,000 points playing basketball at William & Mary. Not to be outdone, Brian earned a spot at Villanova and played on the 1985 National Championship team. They still argue about who was better, but Brian remarks jokingly: “Just ask Billy to show you his ring!” After graduation, Brian tried coaching college basketball for a couple of years, then moved into sports marketing, getting the job at IMG after a stint at a smaller entity.
Elizabeth Harding—yes, a descendant of the 29th President—was from a Seventh Day Adventist family and long line of psychiatrists, and was raised vegetarian—her grandparents founded the Morning Star Farms brands famous for the meatless ‘Wham’ she got teased about bringing to school lunches. She went to college at Loma Linda in California and business school at Thunderbird in Arizona, started a job in sports marketing, got certified as an exercise instructor as a side gig, and soon met an IMG executive who hired her while she was working at the America’s Cup yacht race.
Brian and Elizabeth both showed up in Cleveland for their first IMG weekend sales meeting (even though Brian was at the same time closing on the same house in Pound Ridge where they together still reside with their two Fox Lane daughters), and, as luck would have it, were paired in the same golf foursome along with the two most senior IMG executives. Elizabeth remembers, “I was really anxious because I was one of only three women at the conference and, although I’m a good athlete, I’m really not a good golfer. In those days, these outings were still a pretty competitive, beer- and testosterone-driven, male chauvinist affair. When I met Brian at the first tee I thought he was pretty cute. By the end of the round, I was really impressed with what a good coach he had been and how nice a guy he was. And it was probably the only time, to this day, I’ve actually enjoyed 18 holes. I had a blast, and I was definitely up for the idea of getting to know Brian better!”
Brian also recalls thinking “she was really pretty and obviously very sharp” and that “we connected immediately” at the golf course, but Elizabeth left the bar early that evening in order to set a good corporate impression. Not one to be stymied, Brian called up to Elizabeth’s room, convinced her to come back downstairs, they talked until 4 am, and the rest, as they say, is history. Brian boasts, “I knew she was something special, and I wasn’t going to let her get away without giving it my best shot! Elizabeth asked me to come visit her in L.A. and I was out there in two weeks!” They were married four years later.
Now, Brian is the SVP of Institutional Advancement for the Elizabeth Seton Children’s Foundation, which provides specialized medical, educational, and therapeutic services to over 6,000 children. He is also the founder of Each One Counts, a foundation that raises money hosting sports-related events to fund complimentary pain management therapies for children receiving pediatric hospice and palliative care across the country. He’s rightfully proud that Each One Counts has touched the lives of thousands of terminally and chronically ill kids and that over 500 medical staff are now trained to deliver care to suffering children in over 30 states.
Elizabeth runs Plista at Xaxis in North America, a global digital advertising agency. She’s also created Spin It Off, an eight-week weight loss and wellness program with several hundred alums, and is presently considering its expansion going forward.
In unison they declare: “Sports and fitness are among the key ingredients that keep us happy together and bring us joy. We’re focused not just on what staying fit does for us, but on how we can use sports to make a difference in the lives of others.”
WACCABUC WED Married at Waccabuc Country Club in 1997, the couple will return for an Each One Counts charity golf outing on September 25, 2017.
Photo by Harrington Family