Paul Mocur and Graceful Gears

How Paul Mocur turned his passion for cars into a social initiative that brings people joy


Article by Nicole Edwards


While browsing through my phone, I came across Paul Mocur’s LIVE Instagram

video on the Graceful Gears account. I noticed it was his “Cars & Coffee” event, where

people talk about cars and show some of their vehicles. I was delighted to see a

community with similar interests getting together—online—even during these tough

times.


Paul Mocur ‘21 is the Founder of Graceful Gears, a non-profit organization that

aims to give car rides “to those with serious medical conditions” to make them happy

and joyful. Once a year, Graceful Gears hosts a one-day event at a local racetrack with

volunteers who own amazing cars to give rides to patients from different organizations.

Through his project, Paul is committed to “up-shift” people’s spirits by giving them

exciting experiences.


I was intrigued by how Paul was able to combine his love for cars with a social

initiative, so I interviewed him to find out more about his venture.


Graceful Gears works by collaborating with several non-profit organizations,

including Wish Upon a Teen and Karmanos Cancer Institute, to give their patients the

experience of riding with volunteer drivers. Before Graceful Gears’ events, they contact

the institutions for them to reach out to patients and see who would like to attend.

Meanwhile, Graceful Gears contacts drivers to participate in the activity. “That’s how we

connect with people for the rides,” Paul clarified. As for operational costs, Graceful

Gears partners with local businesses that provide the organization with recurring

donations and annual sponsorships. Individual donors also play a big role in Graceful

Gears. Through these tactics, they’ve been able to grow and fundraise for future events.

Even though Graceful Gears operates mostly with the help of donations, Paul is able to

keep his non-profit sustainable by selling merchandise and will be opening certain

events to the public, as well.


Before starting his project, Paul was inspired by his younger cousin’s reaction to

a drive they took around their neighborhood in Michigan: “Back in 2017, my uncle and I

gave my little cousin, who has a disability, a car ride. Afterward he was so happy that he

couldn’t stop talking about it for 6 months!” Paul explained, “I knew several people who

had cool cars—so I thought there had to be something more I could do to make

someone's day as happy as my cousin’s. That’s where the idea of starting Graceful

Gears came from.”


Paul’s first step towards starting this project was reaching out to the contacts he

knew would be willing to help, including people who were knowledgeable in the car


1 - space: “I remember vividly how, after class, I would go to the conference room in the

basement of Central and marathon-phone call different charities to ask them if they

wanted to have an event like this for their patients. At the same time I would network

with car owners and reach out to people who would want to join our initiative.” It took a

lot of cold-calling and perseverance for Paul to be able to get Graceful Gears up and

running.


Graceful Gears’ first event was in summer 2018. Sixty patients from the

Karmanos Cancer Institute attended: they were offered rides around the racetrack, food

and seats to watch the cars drive. The year after, Paul collaborated with Wish Upon a

Teen, too, and both organizations had their patients go to the event. In 2020, Graceful

Gears couldn't host their usual event because of COVID-19. Instead, the team went in a

fleet of 30 cars and visited 14 different patients’ homes. They also drove in a

centrally-located parking lot where people who lived farther away could see the cars. As

for health concerns, Graceful Gears has been taking precaution measures seriously:

wearing masks, disinfecting areas, avoiding large gatherings, and restraining from

interacting with high-risk patients.


In addition, Graceful Gears hosted their first online “Cars & Coffee.” This

event—common in many countries—is typically a meetup that lasts 2-4 hours, where

car owners bring their vehicles and speak with fellow enthusiasts. People interested in

cars can gather and chat while coffee, donuts and other food vendors sell their

products. This year, since Graceful Gears’ was online, several people showed their cars

from their garages. “We had the Head of Design of the FCA (Fiat Chrysler

Automobiles), Mike Spinelli from The Drive (an automotive media company), and the

Founder of the M1 Concourse, Brad Oleshansky,” Paul beamed with enthusiasm. This

event was the one I came across with via Instagram LIVE. Another activity Graceful

Gears organized was a surprise “birthday drive” at a local home: “We visited the house

of a boy who has been battling cancer. It was his birthday, so the volunteers and I made

a ‘parade’ of about 14 cars in his driveway. The birthday boy was beyond excited to see

what we had planned for him! This encouraged us to organize more birthday drives

during COVID-19.”


Aside from performing more “birthday rides” to patients during the summer, I

asked Paul what his other goals for the future were. Short-term, he’d like to give a ride

to someone he knows will be graduating highschool from Special Education (while

taking the necessary precautions, of course). He also wants to keep his community

engaged with more online “Cars & Coffee” events via Instagram, where anyone gets to

participate, including myself, while living in Guatemala City. Beyond his short-term,

Corona-related goals, Paul would like to raise donations to be able to host annual

events across different states, including Florida, Texas, California, Massachusetts and


2 - Ohio (depending on the seasons). “Our ultimate mission is to help as many people as

possible; to make their days brighter,” Paul expressed.


“I’ve gotten great feedback from patients and their families, which motivates me

to continue with this cause. As for drivers and volunteers, people are surprisingly

generous with their time and super willing to get involved. The drivers know that this

initiative is a great way to give back: it’s only a few hours for them, but it means the

world to the rider,” Paul emphasized.


As for tips on building a successful team, Paul recommends working with people

one already knows: “Don’t jump into business with somebody you've just met. You have

to get to know their character and work-ethic. Someone who’s helped me along the way

is my neighbor, Kristof, from Germany. He knows a lot about cars and mechanics—and

helps me a lot with the back-end planning of projects. Another member of my team is

the husband of my highschool French teacher, Richard. He’s also very knowledgeable

and brings a lot of experience, including having worked for Peugeot. Apart from them,

our Advisory Council helps us a lot. One of the members is Ross Klein, a Babson

graduate! It’s amazing how the Babson alumni network can connect you to great

people.”


A quality that has helped Paul along his entrepreneurial journey is having

thick-skin and learning how to take “no” for an answer. As Paul puts it: “If you get

affected by someone saying ‘no’ to you, you are in a world of trouble. That goes with

anything, not just entrepreneurship. Relationships, jobs, ordering food... are you going

to start crying if a restaurant is out of your favorite meal? No, you order something else

on the menu. Something my dad always tells me is that you shouldn't aim to get X

amount of ‘yes’s; you should aim to get X amount of ‘no’s. And if you get X ‘no’s, raise

the bar to Y. Go with the mindset of knocking out the highest amount of ‘no’s you

can—always giving your best, of course. Don’t get discouraged!”


As a part of the Babson Community, you can get involved with Graceful Gears by

donating, driving your “cool” car as a volunteer, or by spreading the word. Paul will be a

senior this upcoming year—and is happy to help anyone who needs advice—especially

on non-profits, event-planning and cars. During spring semester (Paul’s last semester at

Babson) he will host his first event in Boston. So, if you’ve got a car you think will

“upshift” someone’s spirits, reach out to Graceful Gears!

© 2023 by The Babson Free Press.