“To face this cancer world should be enough. However, it’s not.
Many families are dealing with severe financial difficulties that come along with this cancer world.”
~ Charlie DiGerolamo
In the hallways of the Worrell Professional Center, Charlie DiGerolamo always greets students, faculty and staff with a comforting smile. The retired police officer, now a security officer at Wake Forest University, has dedicated his professional life to keeping others safe. However, there was nothing he could do to protect his son Vinny when cancer attacked.
Vinny was four years old when doctors broke the news to Charlie and Sarah DiGerolamo that their little boy had a cancerous tumor. The DiGerolamos began spending countless hours at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Ward at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. There, their family grew when they met others on the journey of fighting childhood cancer.
“We quickly learned that many families were not as fortunate to have the support system we are blessed with,” Sarah said.
“It’s a 24/7 job when you have a child with cancer. At any given moment, that child might have to go to the hospital for a night, a week, a month, or the rest of their life,” Charlie explained. Job loss is common for parents of children with cancer, he said. “How can you keep your job when you don’t want to leave your child’s side in case he or she passes away when you are at work?”
When Vinny was in remission, the DiGerolamos teamed up with friends to create Kids of Childhood Cancer, a nonprofit that raises money to provide some financial assistance to families of children going through cancer treatment at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital. The foundation provides food vouchers, gas cards, clothes and toys, and helps pay small household and medical bills
to ease the financial burden families are facing.
On April 15, Wake Forest University Schools of Business students, alumni, faculty and staff showed their support for Kids of Childhood Cancer during the annual Student Government Association Charity Auction at Forsyth Country Club. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Charlie and Sarah shared the story behind their foundation. That night, more than $20,000 was raised for Kids of Childhood Cancer. The individual item receiving the highest bid of the night at $3,000 was an “East Meets West Texas BBQ” party donated by professors Ram Baliga and Chuck Kennedy. Other top items donated by faculty, staff and students included stays at beach and mountain homes.
“We could not have been happier with the turnout for this very special event,” said Brian Price (MBA ’11), the chairman of the 2011 Charity Auction. “To see months of preparation rewarded by the crowd’s enthusiasm for Kids of Childhood Cancer was an incredible experience.”
In closing, Sarah told the charity auction attendees, “We want to thank Wake Forest University Schools of Business for making a difference in the lives of these families and choosing Kids of Childhood Cancer as your North Carolina charity for 2011.”