Dr. Cognetti and the entire team have also played a critical role in supporting David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation over the past 10 years. We share something else incredibly special beyond our friendships. It is a shared vision and commitment to improve the lives of patients and their families from the moment of a cancer diagnosis. Our Foundation recently gifted a financial contribution to the Department of Otolaryngology at Jefferson to establish the David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation Patient Support Fund. The goal of the fund is to provide a life preserver to patients facing overwhelming financial burdens. We are grateful for this partnership and that the mission of DDBCF has been adopted for this fund.
It has always been about patients and their families, and this partnership will allow us to continue to serve New Jersey residents as they receive cancer care in Pennsylvania.
Stage IV Head and Neck Cancer Survivor
In early 2019, CoFounder & Stage IV Head & Neck Cancer Survivor David Caldarella of David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation was nominated to serve on the 2020 National Head and Neck Cancer Symposium by Dr. David Cognetti of Jefferson Health. He was selected to serve, and worked behind the scenes with the committee on the symposium, which was set to take place this month in Chicago. As a result of coronavirus, the partner organizations pivoted to create a virtual gathering open to participants throughout the country.
The final webinar in the series, “How to Be A Survivor Champion,” will take place on Wednesday August 19, 2020 at 4:30pm. Deadline is Friday August 14th at 10am. If you or your family are interested in learning more about life after a diagnosis, we encourage you to attend.
On behalf of David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation (DDBCF), I am humbled to announce a bittersweet milestone. Yesterday, a 17-year-old boy battling a cancer diagnosis became the 1,222nd patient/family to receive financial assistance, which brings our all time Direct Financial Giving to $1,000,564.25!
This bittersweet milestone could not have happened without Co-Founders Tim Hall and Carmen Malatino and our past and present 100% volunteer Board of Directors. Our new Executive Director Danielle Corso has been a valued addition to the team and tremendous support system internally. Our Mission of Hope giving partners including Equity Prime Mortgage NJ and event sponsors afford us the opportunity to offer financial assistance in the amount of One Million Dollars to 1,222 patients. Our Patient Advocates, Advisory Board Members, Service Arm Partners and Generation Dream Student Groups all serve to support our families battling this deadly disease that affects 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women.
There are 3 individuals who did not know it at the time but they’re the reason DDBCF even exists today and they would be my nephew Timothy and nieces Isabella and Sabrina English. 8 years ago during my stage IV head and neck cancer diagnosis I read that “Kindness is the shadow of God in Man” and I commented that those shadows were never more present than during my battle with cancer. I would change that now to express those shadows are never more present than every single day that we interact with the courageous individuals who are battling a cancer diagnosis and manage to inspire all of us at DDBCF. Patients and their families remain the sole focus of everything we do at DDBCF.
You will be hearing and seeing many posts over the next couple of weeks spotlighting the various aspects of DDBCF that make up the “little engine that could.”
I am so grateful for your trust and generous support of our mission here at DDBCF. In spite of this milestone, we are seeing a continued avalanche of patient requests and your ongoing giving is crucial!
On Friday December 2nd, David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation reached $200,000.00 in grant donations for the calendar year of 2016 for the first time in our six-year existence. This major milestone is staggering and sobering at the same time. 226 Families are the recipients of the $200,558.24 in grant assistance. Our patients in 2016 range in ages from an 18-month-old girl from Manahawkin to an 84-year-old woman from Ocean Township. Assistance is provided in the form of financial grants including: rent, mortgage, utilities, medical, transportation, groceries and most importantly HOPE in the form of compassion, generosity and love!
$200,000.00 in grant donations for our patients battling a cancer diagnosis are a blessing and lifeline but this “Generosity of Spirit” would not be possible without the support from: our completely volunteer Board of Directors present & past, our Directors of Patient Advocacy, volunteers, individual donors, business sponsors, our youth group Generation Dream & their parents, our Southern Regional High School student group and many more. Most importantly the patients & families who inspire all of us on a daily basis!
We realize the patient grant applications continue to increase at an alarming rate but we also see the passionate, growing and energized team forming alongside David’s Dream & Believe ready to support those families in their darkest of times. We Appreciate You & Thank You!
Far too many men ignore signs of poor health and refuse to take action. By means of spreading awareness, we are making moves and we need your help. This Movember, we are asking men of all ages to grow a mo to help raise awareness & provide HOPE for male patients battling a cancer diagnosis. If growing a mo isn’t your forte, beards & manes are eligible too. Ladies are welcome and encouraged to get involved by collecting pledges and trimming their tresses.
In recognition of this underlying problem, Swing Graphics and David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation have partnered to create “Shave The Date,” a one-time pop up barbershop at East in Surf City, New Jersey. On November 1, men & women are asked to document current hairstyles on their social media channels with #IShavedTheDate. Over the next month, they will grow out their hair while collecting pledges in support of their commitment for a No Shave November. On November 25, 2016, East will open its doors from 4-9pm to welcome participants to receive a shave or haircut from Ryan’s Barber Shop & Shave Parlor with pledges of $50 or more. If you are unable to participate in the No Shave aspect of this event, but would like to take advantage of our popup barbershop, you are invited to make a donation of $25 for a shave or cut & $35 for a combo. If you are unable to attend the popup barbershop at East but would still like to participate in the fundraising, we welcome you to get involved – simply download our pledge sheets below & visit your favorite barber to get the job done. Through David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation, all proceeds from Shave The Date will be directed to male patients battling a cancer diagnosis in need of financial assistance.
“We are currently in a men’s health crisis. Men are 25% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than women. When learning this, I had to ask myself, ‘What do I know about men’s health?’ I could barely even answer that question. I suddenly realized that awareness must be THE first step,” said Dawn Simon from Swing Graphics who has organized this event with the help of business partner Pete Sullivan.
David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that raises funds to provide financial assistance, services and HOPE to families affected by a cancer diagnosis. Since 2011, DDBCF has supported 650 Families battling a cancer diagnosis with over $500,000 in grant donations and is currently on pace to offer financial & emotional support to one patient/family per day.
David Caldarella says, “As a stage IV head and neck cancer survivor and Co-Founder of David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation, it’s imperative we join together to raise awareness for men’s health. 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer this year and that number is set to double in 2050 according to the National Cancer Institute. Dawn Simon & Peter Sullivan from Swing Graphics have created a Movember Fundraiser in partnership with DDBCF called, ‘Shave the Date’ to not only raise awareness for men’s health in particular with cancer but also to raise funds for local men battling a cancer diagnosis. Please join with us as ‘A Beacon of Hope’ this Movember.”
The official website for Shave the Date can be found by clicking here: Shave the Date!
To make a donation to a Shave the Date Ambassador – please click here: Pledge Now!
10 year old Mattison Clark is a student at Stafford Township Intermediate School and was selected to read her essay about her role model as part of the D.A.R.E program. This program is led by Officer Chris Fritz from Stafford Township Police Department. Mattison has been a member of David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation’s youth group Generation Dream since its’ inception. Matty’s mom Renee was joined by Board of Director members Kim McCabe Manzella, Dani Corso and Co-Founder David Caldarella who was the subject of Matty’s essay. Below is the text from Matty’s essay and we just want everybody to know that Mattison has a beautiful soul and we know she will accomplish great things in the future! We love you Matty!
“Close your eyes and think of your perfect role model. Maybe he is famous, maybe he is strong, brave, caring, sincere and all around who you would see as a great role model. To me it is funny how people sometimes overlook those who can be great role models because they aren’t famous. Most people choose family members as their role model. My role model is a man special to me that is not my family, but he feels like it. His name is David and if you went out and asked the world who David Caldarella is the people of Manahawkin, New Jersey would know him. David runs David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation. David is my role model for so many different reasons. He is inspiring, kind, and strong mentally and physically. David will always be my role model, because even though he isn’t famous he is the best man I know.
To Start off, David was just any ordinary man until cancer struck. David battled stage four squamous cell carcinoma(car-see-no-ma) and had a 5% chance to live. On November 11th, 2010, David Caldarella became a stage four cancer survivor. David then created a foundation for families in the local radius of Long Beach Island to around Tuckerton. He fundraises to provide patients with the things they need. He has inspired me to be a better person and help people. I volunteer for his Foundation and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be who I am today. David leads his life with happiness to be in this world and spreads inspiration everywhere.
Moving on, as I said David battled cancer. As David was in the hospital being sick and facing the possibility of death, he was thinking about other people like him trying to survive this horrible part of their life. David’s story got to the public and he had strangers visiting him just because they heard his story and wanted to be the smile that lit up his day. David had so many people care about him and thought, when I get out of the hospital I will care for people like me. Being part of the Foundation I’ve heard his story a million times. I’m not tired of it, actually to this very day his story gets me very time and makes me grateful for what I have. David created David’s Dream out of the kindness of his heart. The same kindness lead me to help raise money, make meals, give toys, and care for everybody. I wouldn’t be who I am without David’s inspiration.
Lastly, I’ve had so many people in my family who died of cancer. To know someone with stage four cancer and survive makes me think if he can be that strong mentally and physically, so can I. David worked through a lot of pain to get to be where he is today. David knew he was sick for about eight months. He had to do a lot of chemotherapy and surgeries. Today David stands tall, proud of the things he has accomplished, and proud to be who he is. Cancer beats your brain and body. David was probably trying to wrap his head around what was happening to him when he first found out. David didn’t sink to the calling pain of death. He stood tall in the end and is free of cancer, stronger than ever, and an amazing man doing amazing things.
In conclusion, David lives cancer free, drug free, and doesn’t abuse alcohol. David took the time he had when he was in the hospital and used it to make a great foundation that helps a lot of people. David is inspiring, kind, and strong. I couldn’t be more proud of David and I hope he sees me like that too. David is the best man I know and I know he can go even farther than he already has. David will always be my role model and nothing can change that. David is my beacon of my hope.” Mattison Clark
Those are the words I heard on April 20, 2010 and on April 22nd 2010; I heard it was Stage IV Head & Neck Cancer! The following 7 months of my ongoing battle with cancer proved to be nothing short of hell on earth. It was my faith in God and the love from family, friends and strangers that buoyed my courage to continue to fight. It was a medical team that showed no limits in their compassion for supporting me then and that continues today! Lastly, it was the Dream and Action of creating a charity to make my nephew and nieces proud of their uncle that would “Pay it Forward” long after my life were to end whether that was during my battle with cancer or many years later. Thankfully, we are at the many years later and 5 years to be exact!
David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation is on the doorstep of offering financial assistance, services and HOPE to 500 families in less than 5 years. 200+ families just in 2015! This generosity of spirit, compassion and love would not be possible were it not for YOU. YOU are the individual donors that attend events, create fundraisers and make a general donation or sign up for planned giving. YOU are the business that sponsors an event, create fundraisers and make a general donation or finds a creative way to offer planned giving to DDBCF. YOU are the volunteers that selflessly give up your time to assist us with an event or serve on a committee. YOU are the individuals or businesses that donate auction items or food to an event. YOU are the students in elementary, middle, high school or colleges that sign up to volunteer on behalf of the Foundation. YOU are the family and friends that not only support the Foundation but stand by me and understand that this is my mission in life. YOU are the girlfriend that stands by my side, donates, volunteers and works on committees for the Foundation. YOU are the directors that have served or currently serve on a 100% volunteer basis and give your talents, time and heart to the families of this Foundation! YOU are the PATIENTS and FAMILIES battling a cancer diagnosis and those PATIENTS who have courageously lost their battle to cancer that inspire all of us. YOU are all reasons we have been able to offer HOPE to 500 families!
I spent the anniversary of my 5 years cancer-free with a new friend at the Baseball Park where his son had practice. I was introduced back in April by a mutual friend when she learned of his similar diagnosis to mine. We have spoken numerous times throughout the past 7 months during his almost identical surgeries, radiation and chemo. He has completed his radiation and chemo and had his last surgery about 55 days ago. We talked for quite some time and shared our similar experiences. 3 things stuck out more than anything else. He asked if the pain would ever stop. I remember the horrific and constant pain like it was yesterday. I not only understood his pain but I assured him he was in the home stretch and to keep the faith. Next, he brought a cooler with water for both of us. The pain reared up again when he would drink his water. I remember that awful feeling when even drinking water felt like you were drinking charred glass. Lastly but most importantly, he told me he got a call from his doctor on his way to meet me that he was CANCER-FREE! I informed him that the same day was my 5 years CANCER-FREE anniversary!
I am truly grateful for today and I’m elated when God blesses me with a new sunrise tomorrow! I cannot thank you enough for your friendship and support for DDBCF!
The biggest takeaways from an incredible few months being involved with the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigator’s “Hero of Hope Award” were the following:
The nomination from Elizabeth “Lizzie” Martinez RN/Nurse Navigator from Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, NJ meant the world to me because Lizzie represents A Beacon of Hope to her oncology patients at SOMC on a daily basis. It’s been a pleasure and honor to partner with Lizzie to better assist our oncology patients.
The selection of being named a finalist by the Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators was equally meaningful to me. This is a fraternity of amazing individuals that work tirelessly on behalf of the oncology patients and a group for which I have the utmost respect and appreciation. I witnessed their selfless acts of kindness and generosity of spirit during my own battle with cancer and continue to see those same selfless acts through the eyes of the patients of David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation.
The 3 other nominees: Bonnie Addario, Susan Leighton and Paul Karpinnen. You can still read and watch their videos by clicking on the link below but I will tell you that all 3 of them are Heroes! All 3 of their videos brought me to tears and I was blessed to spend some time with Susan and Paul over this past weekend. Unfortunately, Bonnie had a prior commitment to an event with her own organization in Philadelphia. Conquer Magazine: Meet the Nominees
During this process, I got to spend some time with Gwen Coverdale and Bruce James. Gwen was my initial contact and interviewed Lizzie and me for the video. Bruce was responsible for pictures and video. I consider both of them friends now and their quality of work speaks volumes about them as people.
Many may or may not know that my girlfriend Catherine Deely is a breast cancer survivor. She’s also one of the strongest and most compassionate women I’ve ever met. She’s an incredible support system for me and a tremendous advocate for DDBCF so it was especially rewarding to share this entire experience with her.
I cannot thank all of you enough who voted, shared and spread the word about the nomination and voting. A special thanks to my medical team and friends at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for all your efforts in helping get the word out about the nomination and voting. You are all not only responsible for raising awareness for DDBCF throughout this process but also responsible for DDBCF receiving a $1,000.00 grant!
When my name was announced by Co-Founder of AONN Lillie Shockney RN as the Inaugural Hero of Hope recipient, my first inclination was, “Did I hear that correctly?” I was and still am humbled by the nomination and to be included with the 3 other amazing nominees. There were 10,000+ votes registered and am beyond grateful for the $1,000.00 grant to DDBCF which will go directly into the hands of a deserving family or two battling a cancer diagnosis. More than anything else, this nomination and award means “the little engine that could” known as DDBCF is being recognized on a national level for the “IMPACT” it’s having in the oncology community and specifically for its’ impact on patients and their families affected by a cancer diagnosis. This is a credit to our Board of Directors (Kim McCabe Manzella, Tim Hall, Dani Corso, Jill Elsasser, Kristin Panzone and Kelly Powers) who serve on a 100% volunteer basis and give 100% of their hearts; our generous and amazing sponsors who continually reach into their individual pockets and that of their businesses/organizations to support DDBCF; our selfless volunteers who give of their time and energy; our growing youth group Generation Dream and their parents; the newly formed Southern Regional High School student group and its’ teachers; Stockton University, Dr. Ai Zhang and students. Last but certainly first in the hearts and minds of all of us at DDBCF are the patients currently battling a cancer diagnosis and those brave souls we have lost to this deadly disease. This amazing group of courageous, strong and inspiring souls received that Hero of Hope Award this past Saturday!
We held our 3rd Annual Island Gala “A Night on the Boardwalk”on Friday August 14th and it proved to be our most successful fundraiser to date with a NET of $94,577.43! Our Mega 50/50 Raffle Winners were Angela Monafo and Taryn Parascand (Congratulations!) but there’s no doubt that the real winners of the night were our patients and families affected by a cancer diagnosis! Thank you.
We do need to thank a few people that were instrumental in making our 3rd Annual Island Gala possible. That starts with our executive committee in charge of planning and sponsoring various aspects of this year’s event. The Reynolds Family, Reynolds Landscaping & Garden Shop, Steber Family, McCabe Family, Catherine Deely and Board of Director Members Kim Manzella & Dani Corso. This group started its’ planning/management efforts in January 2015 and continued right up until the last item was packed up around 2:00am Saturday morning! It takes a monumental effort from a dedicated team to pull off an event like this one and this group was simply amazing!
Our Host Venue for the 3rd year in a row was our friends at the Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club! Tom Hughes, Jaimee Boyle and Brittany Solon treat the entire planning process, meetings and night of the event as if it was a special party for a family member and for that we are eternally grateful. The resort is absolutely beautiful and the incredible staff make all of our guests feel like VIP’s!
Our Auctions are always top notch thanks to the efforts of Cathy Deely, Kim Manzella, Dani Corso, Sophia Steber, the Reynolds Family (Peg, Katie & Ashley) and our extremely generous local businesses that want to participate in our events. A special thanks to Kyle Baddorf Executive Chef at Garces Trading Co. for not only producing one very successful auction dinner but accepting to do 3 of them!!!
We would not be able to hold our events were it not for the tremendous support from our volunteers throughout the year especially at this Goliath of an event. A special thanks to Tony Coon, Ryan Johnson, John Manzella, Nick Staub, Lisa AndersonandJames Donahower.
Our guests (former and new) and everybody listed above demonstrated a genuine commitment to the mission of the Foundation and generosity of spirit that could only be described as inspirational! Our team from DDBCF walked away from this year’s Island Gala knowing that our Beacon of Hope will shine a little brighter for our patients/families affected by a cancer diagnosis thanks to all of you!
Mark your calendars now for the 4th Annual Island Gala on Friday August 5th 2016!
A Note From David Caldarella, Co-Founder & Executive Director:
I was humbled and honored to hear that I was selected as 1 of 4 finalists for the 2015 Hero of Hope Award by the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators. This nomination is very special because it emanates from Oncology Nurses and Patient Navigators who recognized the critical work and mission of David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation. In particular, Elizabeth Martinez from Southern Ocean Medical Center who nominated me and who should be nominated herself! It’s very difficult to hear life and death struggles everyday but it’s a special person that rises above to help. Oncology nurses and patient navigators do that on a daily basis so to be recognized by that same group of amazing individuals is truly overwhelming! The recognition of being nominated is a confirmation for our Board of Directors, Sponsors, Individual Donors and Volunteers that we are making a difference in the lives of our families battling a cancer diagnosis.
David Caldarella was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in April 2010. He learned his cancer was extremely aggressive and had already metastasized from his tonsils to the lymph nodes on the right side of his neck and down his throat.
“The news was upsetting on a number of levels,” says Caldarella. “I was in the best shape of my life and had never smoked. Beyond the physical, it hit me emotionally, socially, and financially. It literally changed my life.”
The next month he underwent a tonsillectomy and biopsy, a right neck dissection and transoral robotic surgery to remove the remaining tonsil and tumor. Chemo and radiation quickly followed.
“What got me through this was my family, friends, faith, the kindness of strangers, and the desire to create a legacy that would benefit others and make my nephew and nieces proud.”
“I thought about the foundation constantly,” he says. “It would be 2 or 3 in the morning, and I would be trying to figure out how we would fund it, who we would help, and what it is we would do.”
In November 2010, Caldarella received the “all clear” from his surgeon and spent the next two years growing his foundation, which required overseeing four annual fundraising events.
“By 2013, we reached a breaking point,” he explains. “We surpassed our initial goal to help one or two families a year almost immediately. By the time I went full-time and became a salaried employee of the foundation in 2014, we were helping more than 100 people from across New Jersey annually.”
To date, David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation has helped 400 families and has given more than $400,000 in assistance.
Voting to select the winner is now open. The winner of the Hero of Hope Patient Award will be announced in early October at AONN’s sixth annual Navigation and Survivorship Conference in Atlanta. The winner will receive a plaque recognizing his/her contributions to the cancer community as well as a donation of $1,000 made to the charity of his/her choice.
About the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators
The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, Inc. (AONN+) is the largest national specialty organization dedicated to improving patient care and quality of life by defining, enhancing, and promoting the role of oncology nurse and patient navigators. The organization, which has more than 5,000 members, was founded in 2009 to provide a network for all professionals involved and interested in patient navigation and survivorship care services in order to better manage the complexities of the cancer treatment process. For more information visit www.aonnonline.org.About CONQUER: The Patient Voice Magazine:
CONQUER is the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators’ (AONN+) premier forum for patients with cancer. CONQUER features articles written by and for patients with cancer, survivors, nurse navigators, and other oncology team members. This magazine addresses the issues that patients, their family members, and caregivers face every day in an easy-to-read format. Issues include interviews with patients with cancer, information on access to care, and articles on lifestyle topics such as nutrition, stress management, personal finance, and legal and employer issues. CONQUER also features patient stories that are nominated for the AONN+ HERO OF HOPETM award, which will be presented at the AONN+ Annual Conference. All stories are compiled in a special issue of CONQUER at the end of the year. For more information visit www.conquer-magazine.com.
About David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation
David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that raises funds to provide financial assistance and services to families primarily in New Jersey affected by a cancer diagnosis. David Caldarella, Co-Founder and Stage IV cancer survivor, established David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation in 2010. His journey of living through Stage IV cancer inspired him to dedicate his life to helping other individuals, affected by a cancer diagnosis. David spends most of his time being with these families and has been an amazing support person in all their lives. To date, the Foundation has assisted 325 patients in 4 years, and donated over $300,000 to families afflicted by cancer. Donations are used towards a multitude of services for the family battling a cancer diagnosis including financial assistance for medications, treatments, transportation, rent, mortgage and utility bills.