For Michael Pisciotta, his NASCAR-fueled adrenaline rush had nothing to do with revving engines or checkered flags. Instead, those adrenaline rushes belonged to his 7-year-old friend Jack and his family, and Pisciotta could smile because he knew it was because of his fundraising efforts through Leadership Links.
During a visit to his moms preschool class two years ago, Pisciotta met Jack, who was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) when he was two years old. After meeting the energetic and brave 4-year-old, a friendship was born and Pisciottas fundraising focus was solidified.
I saw him interacting with the other kids and saw how he acted and it was really unfair because hes still a normal kid, Pisciotta said. It was really sad and I just wanted to find a way to do something for him.
Through his Birdies for Charity campaign in 2011, Pisciotta raised $4,000 for the Childrens Tumor Foundation. Because of those funds, Jack, his younger brother and his father were able to go to Racing4Research in Daytona, Fla., a trip they otherwise would not have been able to take.
Pisciottas involvement with the Childrens Tumor Foundation goes beyond Leadership Links. He helped with the first-annual Fore NF Golf Classic in April 2012, and raised $1,000 in donations by hitting tee shots for groups during the tournament.
Michael's leadership within our community has been extremely gratifying. His persistence and enthusiasm, on and off the golf course, have distinguished him as someone committed to making a difference, said John Risner, president of Childrens Tumor Foundation. Because of his efforts, literally hundreds of people now know about NF and CTF; people we could not have reached without Michaels decision to help.
The inaugural Fore NF Golf Classic exceeded its fundraising goals and raised $42,000.
His impressive fundraising efforts, at such a young age, on behalf of a cause that does not affect him, are truly remarkable, Risner said. Because of our Foundation's commitment to leveraging every dollar raised, the thousands Michael has collected will make a very real difference in the lives of those with NF.
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A rising junior at Alpharetta (Ga.) High School, Pisciotta is a second-year member of the Leadership Links program and his per-birdie pledges for 2012 currently total $65.
I think its important because it helps kids that arent as fortunate as we are and I would advise kids to do it because youre doing something other than for yourself, said Pisciotta, who has set a fundraising goal of $10,000 this year. You use your ability to help someone that doesnt have as much as you do and cant do as much as you can.
To make a one-time donation or pledge to Pisciottas Birdies for Charity campaign, visit his personalized Leadership Links website.