National Philanthropy Day

By Staff Writer - November 15, 2018

In 1986, former President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation recognizing Nov. 15 as National Philanthropy Day in the United States. This special day celebrates the great contributions of philanthropy and the people active in the philanthropic community. All across the country, awards are given to individuals and businesses in recognition of their service to their communities.

This year, two of our longtime community partners are being honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Suncoast Chapter on National Philanthropy Day: Williams Automotive Group and Golfers vs. Brain Cancer Foundation.

Private philanthropy and community partnerships are especially crucial to Moffitt Cancer Center’s success. They help accelerate research discoveries from the lab to the patient’s bedside and unite the community in our fight against cancer.

Philanthropic Corporation of the Year — Williams Automotive Group

The family-owned Williams Automotive Group prides itself on giving back to the community.

In 2010, after several families within the company were affected by cancer, Williams Automotive Group pledged to raise $500,000 over 10 years toward supporting Moffitt’s work in breast cancer research.

Raising that $500,000 is a team effort. In fact, “active community involvement” is one of the Tampa-based company’s official core values.

Every October, the company supports cancer research by having their 500 employees wear pink shirts at each of the four dealerships. And throughout the year, proceeds from every vehicle sold are allocated toward the company’s commitment to Moffitt.

Over the past eight years, Williams Automotive Group has donated $495,000 ­— and with two more years to go, the company plans on far exceeding the original pledge.

This year, Williams Automotive Group won the National Philanthropy Day award for Philanthropic Corporation of the Year. This award is presented to a corporation or corporate foundation that has demonstrated outstanding commitment through financial support and volunteerism, and encourages and motivates others to take philanthropic leadership roles in the community.

Philanthropic Service Organization of the Year — Golfers vs. Brain Cancer Foundation

In 2008, at the age of 40, Melissa Pittman wasn’t thinking about cancer. Busy with an active family and managing a relocation from South Carolina, Melissa and her husband, Jay, became part of the East Lake Woodlands Country Club golf community.

Shortly after settling in, Melissa was faced with a shocking diagnosis: an inoperable brain tumor that would forever change her life. Initially given only three years to live, Melissa took it one day at a time. With chemo and radiation treatments to keep the tumor from growing, Melissa continued to beat the odds for eight years. In early 2016, the tumor returned and Melissa lost her battle that spring. But her drive to find a cure lives on and was the catalyst for the Golfers vs. Brain Cancer Foundation.

Melissa’s determination, fighting spirit, and the support of many friends and colleagues in the golfing community are the inspiration for Golfers vs. Brain Cancer. Golfers of all skill levels rally together every year on behalf of Melissa and so many others with brain cancer.

Now in its 10th year, Golfers vs. Brain Cancer has raised $820,000 to support brain cancer research at Moffitt and Johns Hopkins All Childrens.

The funds raised are designated to Peter Forsyth, MD, chair of Moffitt’s Neuro-Oncology Program and the physician who helped give Melissa those eight additional years.    

Melissa lived by the motto “each day is a gift — that is why it’s called the present; yesterday is the past and tomorrow is unknown, but today is my present.”

This year, the Golfers vs. Brain Cancer Foundation won the National Philanthropy Day award for Philanthropic Service Organization of the Year. This award is presented to a service organization that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteerism for the benefit of charitable institutions and a commitment to the advancement of philanthropy.

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