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My Eight-Year-Old Taught Me to Love Fundraising

Patty and Joe Cavallo

Since 2010, Team Sienna has loudly and proudly raised close to $200k for Hope & Heroes. People may see that number and assume we’ve gotten there through large donations, but it’s the opposite. We’ve learned that lots of little things can go a long way.

I’ve been actively fundraising for pediatric cancer since 2006, when my oldest daughter, Sienna, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. Sienna loved fundraising for Hope & Heroes and believed the doctors could focus on research and better chemotherapies with proper funding.

Patty and Joe Cavallo
Sienna's Stoop Sale

Fundraising quickly became a family event in our home while Sienna was on treatment – her “stoop sales” on the front steps of our Brooklyn home and Sunday lemonade stands became famous. These efforts led to great success and were fun and treasured family activities.

When Sienna died, she left us with a passion for raising money for childhood cancer organizations and spreading awareness that children get cancer, too. Following Sienna’s example, I now LOVE fundraising and helping others raise money. And, like Sienna, I have learned that small efforts can make a BIG impact.

One year, my friend Janice organized a kickboxing event by simply going to her kickboxing gym and asking them to do a fundraiser class. Our friend, Kristen, has continued the stoop sale tradition.  Sienna and her father, Joe, came up with the idea to do a fundraiser they called Sienna’s ParTee, in which participants paid for a game of golf followed by dinner.

We’ve gotten our schools involved through bake sales, bracelet sales, setting up information tables, and even selling ice cream after the dismissal bell rings. None are huge events, but all lead to donations and more awareness.

Sienna's 3rd ParTee

We also believe in the power of social media – we post, share, and encourage people to join or support our fundraising. Over the years, I have learned that people really want to help. Once they see what you are doing, they want to join in on the fun.

Does a dollar make a difference? Absolutely!

Whether we are doing individual events or working as a group, we know that our efforts will result in enjoying our success. We view fundraising as a way to continue honoring Sienna, who always wanted people to know that even though she had cancer, she was still a normal kid.

Guest author: Patty Cavallo is the former co-caption of Team Sienna (along with her husband Joe) and was the founding chairperson for the Hope & Heroes Walk. She served in that role until 2019. In 2011, Patty received Hope & Heroes’ Dustin Drapkin Memorial Award for her exemplary personal commitment and service to the Hope & Heroes mission. 

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