Celebrating Life

Philanthropy with a Personal Touch

When the long white limousine pulled into their driveway the afternoon of Nov. 5, Ray and Toni Turchi and their 10-year-old son, Anthony – all elegantly dressed – waved to their astounded neighbors, got in the car and were whisked away.

The Turchi family arrived at Quicken Loans Arena to attend the 12th annual “An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends.” The driver helped them out of the car and the three were joyously greeted by a group of people they had never met before, but who were responsible for their fairy-tale evening.

In October 2010, J. Mark Debnam, founder and CEO of Quality IT Partners Inc., a national healthcare consulting firm, and his business partners were invited to the 11th annual “An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends.” The celebrity-packed ice show and black tie gala raises funds for The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative, which offers educational and survivorship programs and supports research and care for patients and their caregivers.

They had such a wonderful time that it sparked an idea for supporting the 2011 gala.

“Cancer has deeply touched many of us, and we wanted to do more than just make a donation,” Mr. Debnam says. “To have the opportunity to enrich the life of someone facing this disease is a true honor.”

Making the Connection

The company decided to sponsor a cancer patient who was participating in the 4th Angel Mentoring Program and the patient’s family, giving them an opportunity to attend the ice show and gala with company representatives. The 4th Angel Mentoring Program, part of the CARES initiative, matches cancer patients with a trained volunteer cancer survivor to ease their experiences.

Cleveland Clinic staff connected Quality with Mrs. Turchi, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in March 2011. When she received the invitation, she had only four remaining treatments. She says she was thrilled and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the gift of life and, most important, the cause they were supporting.

‘A Magical Evening’

That night, the group from Quality sat with the Turchis in the VIP section and listened to Grammy-award winner Sheryl Crow sing while world-champion ice skaters performed. Then, it was off to the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel for dinner and dancing until late in the evening. A deep friendship was developing.

“It was a magical evening, and we were treated like royalty,” Mrs. Turchi says. “Spending quality time with my family is so precious. And we have gained so much more than just seats at an ice show – we have gained true friends.”

Mr. Debnam says his company wanted the Turchi family to have a memorable evening. “We consider them part of our extended family and continue to stay in close touch.”

Paying it Forward

Attending the event also inspired the Turchis to offer other cancer patients the same opportunity. Mrs. Turchi is launching her own nonprofit organization, which initially will focus on supporting Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute. The family also plans to attend next year’s ice show and gala, and they are encouraging friends and relatives to purchase tables.

“It may sound funny, but getting cancer is probably one of the best things that has happened in my life,” says Mrs. Turchi.

Mr. Debnam hopes that other companies will follow Quality’s lead. “Being able to do this has touched us far more than we could have imagined. It has truly been a wonderful experience.”

To make a gift supporting the Taussig Cancer Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2237, ext. 4125.

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