United States

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Alyssa Lavelle

ARTICLE

Resource Manager | New York, NY

Twelve years ago, when I was 18 years old, I lost my mother to a battle with colon cancer roughly five years after her diagnosis.  Throughout her time in and out of doctors’ offices and treatment centers, she met people along the way who touched her heart and desperately needed help. My mother was a public school teacher, so thankfully, she had great health insurance and the cost of treatment wasn't a burden on her or our family, but there were many people she met who weren't as lucky. While sick and struggling herself, she decided to start holding small fundraising events to help these people she had grown to know and care about. I will never forget that feeling of awe and admiration as a teenager when seeing my mother help the people around her. She was able to hold two small events, one at a local restaurant and one at a nearby bowling alley, to raise money and was in the process of incorporating her foundation and filing for tax exempt status when her health took a turn for the worse and she was unable to go on. Since then, I have always wanted to continue those efforts in her spirit.

In 2016, I connected with the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation (CCCF) and held my first event to raise money to benefit their mission: dedication to a world without colorectal cancer through awareness, prevention, screening, and research. Similar to the events my mother held, it was small, but we were able to raise $2,000 the first year. Every year since, we have held an event that has grown incrementally. We held our fourth annual event on October 2. With the money raised this year, we have been able to donate a total of $11,850 to the CCCF.

I am immensely proud of these events, but my dream would be to establish an independent foundation in my mother’s name: The Pat M. Tallini Foundation. The CCCF does amazing work focused on research and prevention, but I would like to establish a fund that seeks to directly help those diagnosed with colon cancer and their families to honor my mother’s intention. I would like to partner with hospitals around the city to identify families in need and choose an annual beneficiary of our fundraising. Eventually I would also like to set up a scholarship fund for children who have lost parents to colon cancer, which is very near and dear to my heart because once my mother passed, I had to pay for college on my own.

The $10,000 award would help with legal support in incorporating a nonprofit organization, building a website where we could accept donations and advertise events, and help establish a fund to support our annual fundraisers. The cost of this past year’s event totaled just under $5,000 (venue, food & open bar, invitations, favors, décor, etc.). Since next October will mark the fifth annual event, I would like to make it even bigger, and open it up to more people.

I truly appreciate your time and consideration. This is something I have wanted to do for 12 years, and am proud to say I have started working towards it, but RSM’s Pursue Your Passion program would do wonders in helping me truly pursue MY passion to honor my mother while helping my community as well.