Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Friends who Philanth'rock' it!

Running sure isn't my thing, but Nicole can move.

Name: Nicole Floro
Age: 25
Career: Pharmacovigilance Specialist at pharmaceutical company. [No one knows that that is but it is ensuring patient safety during clinical trials and after the drug goes on the market. We monitor what happens to the patient while they take the drug and at the end of the day formulate the list of side effects you see on every drug you take]
I am in graduate school full time to get my MS degree in Biology (concentration in science education). I am also a teaching assistant to students taking Introduction to Biology.
I am going to be quitting my full time job to focus on my studies so pretty soon my career will be full time student!

Why are you running the marathon? Is this your first time running?
The Boston Marathon will be my second marathon. I ran a marathon in Washington DC on St. Patrick’s Day last year. I was never a runner. I was the high school “athlete” who came in last during the mile warm up, huffing and puffing the whole time. In 2011, I began running-first, using the couch to 5k workout and eventually transitioning to a half marathon. Crossing the finish line of my first race was an unbelievable feeling. Running in general became an unbelievable feeling. It provided a sense of calm in my hectic life and allowed me to just be with my thoughts for a little while. During especially overwhelming times in my life, throwing on a pair of sneakers and hitting the pavement was the best therapy. I can’t explain how many “life events” it has gotten me through. Although I hate it (a lot) sometimes, I can’t forget how positive it has been for me.
Training for a marathon is unlike anything I have ever done though. It goes beyond an enjoyable calming experience. It pushes you mentally and physically to the point you want to give up. For 18 weeks of training, nothing can come between you and your run, not the weather, not sickness, not fatigue, not social events, nothing. The mental toughness you develop is as important as the training. Running miles 18-26 of the race is entirely mental. The only thing getting you to put one foot in front of the other is determination. It is an unbelievable feat and I am sure crossing the finish line in Boston will be an even more incredible experience.
To sum up why I am running the marathon:
I am running to experience that triumph again.
I am running because you become part of a community of shared experiences.
I am running to challenge myself.
I am running to maintain a sense of consistency in my otherwise busy schedule.
I am running for something bigger than myself- the charity to which I dedicating my run.

Who are you running it for? Why are you running to benefit this cause?
I am running on behalf of the Michael Lisnow Respite Center. I applied to run only for this charity because I find their mission to be admirable and because 93% of every dollar raised goes to direct care which is considerably higher than most other charities. Additionally, many charities focus on the disease or disability itself while overlooking the family and friends who take care of the afflicted individuals. I found it refreshing to see that The Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center is focused on the caretakers and appreciating their strength and commitment to their loved one(s). I can imagine caring for an individual with disabilities is an exhausting effort and can really wear on a person/family. I am fortunate in that I do not have any friends of family members who require special assistance. However, as my grandparents have aged and become sick, I see how taxing their care can be on my parents. Seeing just a glimpse of the work that is required to care for loved ones brings even more of an appreciation to the volunteers at the Center. 
The Center provides an exceptional service to these individuals and their families through the many programs offered.  I would like to do my part to not only ensure these programs are maintained for current families but to allow for greater participation.

Do you support other philanthropic causes or volunteer elsewhere?
Unfortunately I don’t have the time right now to volunteer, which is a terribly lame excuse. Once my life settles down after the marathon and after I’m done working full time I am going to look into volunteer opportunities. I would like to focus on a mentoring program or tutoring at a local school once my schedule opens up.

If you had a million dollars to donate, what organization(s) would you give to? International or domestic?
I am not sure what specific organization I would donate the million dollars, however it would be organizations focused on homelessness and hunger in the United States. I don’t think either need to exist and it is hard to fathom that so many people have to suffer. Living and working in the city has opened my eyes to the problem of homelessness and hunger in the winter months it is heartbreaking. No one should have to worry where they are going to sleep every night or how they are going to eat every day. These are basic life necessities and should be granted to all.

Is there a philanthropist you admire?
I respect the philanthropic work of Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation. It seems they are truly committed to improving the quality of life for millions (if not billions) of people worldwide. Additionally the issues addressed by their foundation, namely health and education, are issues I value.
The education system in the United States needs improvement. Students need to be supported in K-12 so they are academically ready to enter undergraduate studies. With my new teaching assistant position I am seeing firsthand how ill-prepared some students are to take on college studies. If students aren’t able to succeed and attain their college degree they face further difficulties in reaching financial stability. I appreciate the foundation’s focus on fostering academic excellence so as to empower students in the future.
My experience working in the healthcare field along with my biology studies has exposed me to the terrible diseases afflicting millions of people around the world. The disease rates in developing countries are staggering because the treatment is not available and the research isn’t being conducted.  The foundation is bringing to light many of these issues and working on improving treatment in developing countries and increasing research efforts on neglected diseases. Any minimization in disease incidence would be a considerable achievement.

What does Philanthropy mean to you?
To me, philanthropy is an appreciation for humanity and a focus on improving the lives and well being of people through altruistic initiatives.

To support Nicole's marathon run, visit Nicole Floro: Running for Respite

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