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Striking out cancer one event at a time

by Kelsey Litwin September 29, 2015
Striking out cancer one event at a time

A Concordia JMSB student raises over $75,000 for St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation

It’s pretty common to find a wide-eyed 15-year-old with great aspirations. It is relatively uncommon, however, to find a teenager who puts themselves on the path to achieving it.

StrikeOut Cancer founder Anthony Pacella. Photo by Kelsey Litwin.

StrikeOut Cancer founder Anthony Pacella. Photo by Kelsey Litwin.

Anthony Pacella has proven to be the exception.

The now 20-year-old JMSB student has spent the last five years making a name for his non-profit organization, StrikeOut Cancer.

StrikeOut Cancer aims to raise funds for cancer research, facilities and treatment equipment through community events. You might remember hearing about the organization’s annual Bowl-A-Thon. Within five years, the family-oriented event, which usually draws crowds of several hundred people, has helped Pacella raise over $75,000 for Montreal’s St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation.

For Pacella, family has always been at the heart of it all. His mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in August of 2010. The news came as a shock to Pacella. At 52 years old, Mary Melillo Pacella was incredibly young for such a severe diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer is about 70. Even more surprisingly, she had never smoked. “It was the first time that we’d heard of someone who had never smoked … developing lung cancer,” Pacella said.

Lung cancer affects a large portion of the Canadian population. It accounts for 14 per cent of all new cancer cases, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Based on the society’s statistics from 2015, about 57 individuals will die from lung cancer each day in Canada.

For Pacella, his mother’s diagnosis was a call to action. He immediately began organizing a fundraiser in partnership with St. Mary’s, where his mother was being treated. While her battle with the disease was short, Pacella’s motivation did not falter following his mother’s passing. A short three months after her death, Pacella’s first event was underway.

With five years of fundraising under his belt, Pacella is looking into something bigger. On Nov. 7, StrikeOut Cancer will host their first gala, with all proceeds going toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He hopes that this event will further his mission of bringing cancer awareness to the public. He said he is “also trying to advocate that young individuals can make a difference.”

The St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation guided Pacella as he began building the framework for his own organization at the age of 15. With their assistance, he was able to watch his vision come to fruition and then contribute back in an extremely meaningful way. The mentorship that they provided enabled him to reimagine his future.

“I want to live my life in my mom’s honour and I am working to building a non-profit organization,” he said.

Pacella plans to combine the knowledge that he’ll gain during his time as a management student with his passion for social awareness. In five years, he said he hopes to have a well-established letterhead as a government-accredited, non-profit organization.

“I see myself building experiences,” he said. Overall, he hopes that he inspires more young adults to get involved and support a cause that means a lot to them.

For more information on StrikeOut Cancer and their upcoming gala, visit their Facebook page.


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