I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse, but the joke on the Ward side of my family is that we have a rubber band arm. It just shoots up in the air and we can’t stop it. My penchant for volunteerism, fundraising, and lending a helping hand started when I was little. I grew up in the Catholic faith where we learned a lot about service and organization. While attending a small, Catholic school you volunteer A LOT; you work in the concession stand with Aunt Carol, you take money at volleyball games, you learn how to count change at a very young age. It’s part of the gig. As a family, we did a lot of volunteering together. We’d work at festivals and events. We were at every community event frying donuts or flipping hamburgers or cleaning tables or hauling boxes. I was brought up with this sense of service and community and it’s just continuing to be passed down through our family and generations. I started out with my aunt when I was very young helping with the local community parade and now one of my best friends runs the show and I still am out there every single first Saturday of August in the heat, wearing a Sheriff’s vest in the middle of the street, directing traffic. It’s just that small-town mentality. You pitch in, you help out, and it’s how we make the world go round.
On top of that, I am a twenty-three-plus-year volunteer for Special Olympics Ohio. It’s an organization that is incredibly near and dear to my heart. I started there with my uncle and my brother when I was in junior high and early high school, and I haven’t ever stopped. And then comes my love of fundraising. I love a good event. Fun run, 5K, family walk, golf outing, poker walk – you name it, I’m here for it. And when that event touches your heart, affects your or your family, or makes you feel like you are really making a difference, the chances that you are going to give of the time of your money, of your own effort are going to significantly increase. Those events that truly resonate with me are the organizations that support the Think Pink movement, breast cancer awareness and research, and women’s health. It’s so incredibly important that we talk about women’s health and organizations like The American Cancer Society, Look Good Feel Better, Sephora Brave Beauty, and all of the amazing programs for women who have been diagnosed. Pink ribbons have been prominent in my life from a young age. We wore pink for our great aunts, we ran in their honor and memory. When I was in high school it hit even closer to home. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. So immediately our family flocked to those organizations. We wore pink, we ran, we walked, we gave, and we supported because it meant more to us now than ever. And now the whole family does it every single year – mom, dad, brother, aunts, uncles, all the way down to the babies in the strollers. We are out there, loud and proud, rocking our pink ribbons and making a difference for every other person who hears those words, “You have breast cancer.”To donate, please click here: