Seven years ago, a Charlotte Catholic parent was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Charlotte Catholic is a close-knit school community. Immediately, everyone wanted to help.
It started with Denise Salvino’s son, Matthew, and Catholic junior varsity basketball coach Andre Speech selling T-shirts. In 2013, they sold a lot of them, raising $13,000. Denise Salvino is a cancer survivor now, and the event, which started in her honor, has been very successful.
The annual Cougars 4 a Cure Event has raised more than $140,000 since it began.
Matthew Salvino has graduated and is now a junior at Duke University. His baby brother, Mitchell, is now in charge of the project. Mitchell is a senior who will play baseball in college at Washington & Lee.
Mitchell has been a three-year starter in the outfield at Catholic. He’s also a National Honor Society scholar, carrying a 4.4 GPA while taking six Advanced Placement (AP) classes.
Salvino was also nominated for the Park Scholarship at N.C. State and Bryan Scholarship at Davidson College.
But despite all of his accomplishments academically and athletically, Salvino said the fundraiser that began in his mother’s honor has made the biggest impact in his community and is the thing he’s most proud of.
For the last three years, Salvino has been the president of the fundraiser which also credits Catholic varsity basketball Mike King, Speech and the entire Charlotte Catholic basketball program as major driving forces.
And the event has grown exponentially, raising $42,000 last year.
“I don’t do the (C4C) fundraiser for myself, I do it to help other people who have (bladder) cancer,” Mitchell Salvino said. “The money raises goes to specific research projects done in Charlotte at Levine Cancer Institute. We hope this money helps people get better and helps find a cure for bladder cancer. It’s a great feeling to know (C4C) is having an impact for the doctors, researchers and people with cancer right here in our community.”
Making it bigger and better
The goal from Day 1 of the C4C was to make it bigger and better each year.
When Mitchell took over from his brother Matthew Salvino in 2016, naturally he wanted to one up him.
And he did. Mitchell expanded the reach of the C4C in the four Catholic elementary schools in Charlotte as well as Holy Trinity Middle School.
Mitchell was also able to secure C4C’s first corporate sponsor, getting AstraZeneca on board in 2017, and the company donated $10,000.
This year, the goal is raise $45,000.
While Mitchell Salvino is in his final year running the fundraiser, he is also busy training his younger sister, Morgan, who is a freshman at Charlotte Catholic and a junior varsity cheerleader.
Morgan already has plans to take C4C to another level and best her older brothers.
“My brother and sister and I are very competitive with each other in everything we do,” said Mitchell Salvino, with a big laugh. “…I don’t like to lose at anything, but I hope when Morgan takes over C4C she can make it even bigger than I did. Of course, she (Morgan) has already told me she’s going to make C4C even better, and raise more money next year.”
The 2018 fundraising event culminates when the Charlotte Catholic basketball hosts Marvin Ridge Friday, Jan. 18.
Mitchell Salvino’s goal is to sell one of the C4C white tee-shirts to every person in attendance not only to raise more money, but also have a “white out,” that night at the game.
Mitchell will present a check to several of the doctors from Levine’s that will be in attendance for what is expected to be a capacity crowd.
The crowd will be full of supporters from Charlotte Catholic, the rest of the schools involved and friends of the Salvino family like his summer league coach Jeff Schaefer.
“The most rewarding thing to see our players do is not on the baseball field, but in the community and to understand that giving back is much better than receiving,” said Schaefer, a former Major League Baseball player (1989-94) who is also Regional Director of USA Baseball in the Southeast and Northeast. “…The Salvinos are all about giving back, the whole family is all about helping people.”
C4C was founded with that same giving spirit six years ago when the Salvino family faced their own hard times.
While some kids would run from or be knocked down by the kind of adversity, Matthew, Mitchell and now Morgan Salvino chose to fight back.
“When we found out my mom (Denise) had cancer that was a very tough time for our family,” Mitchell Salvino said. “…But it also inspired the idea for (C4C). We didn’t just want to help my mom, we wanted to help others, too. Now that we’ve seen the direct impact it can have in our community, we hope to keep making it better each year. We want to keep raising more money to help support cancer research.”
How you can donate to Cougars 4 a Cure (C4C)
The link to give is: https://mygivingaccenture.yourcause.com/public#/fundraising/4901