Continuing the cause

Quinnipiac senior raises money for rare brain disease and carries on legacy of philanthropy event

By on March 5, 2019

Sometimes in life, the passions that reward us the most are the ones that involve giving to others.

That was the case for senior finance major Tommy Casale, who recently raised $1,500 in a week to fight a rare brain disease called Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).

Roughly one in every 21,000 people have ALD, and it is mostly in boys four through 10, according to Stop ALD’s website.

Casale didn’t raise the money out of nowhere though, since this was the third time he raised money to fight ALD, but the first time he had to change his ways of doing so.

Casale started raising as a sophomore at Quinnipiac because a member of his fraternity had a direct connection to the disease.

Photo courtesy of Tommy Casale
That connection was a family friend named Brandon Rojas, who was a young boy fighting ALD. After contacting the Rojas family, Casale and Rojas ran the soccer event, “Battling with Brandon,” Casale’s sophomore year.

They raised money for ALD during the event his sophomore year and junior year as well. This year, the event was unable to run, but Casale didn’t give up the fight against ALD, even if that meant battling it alone.

“I just knew there was another way I could contribute despite the event being unable to run,” Casale said. “When I decided to go with an alternative to continue the annual fundraiser, I didn’t expect all the support to come that fast or to be that generous.”

What Casale is referring to, is the $1,500 he raised for ALD in roughly one week this February, creating a substantial alternative to his fraternity’s fundraiser.

Even though he started the page alone, he built it up enough to have the support of the community around him.

For Casale, it was only about doing whatever he could to help the cause.

“I felt bad one morning and wanted to find if there was anything else I could do, as opposed to just doing nothing,” said Casale. “I knew there was another way I could raise money and it would just take more effort to figure out, but I had to start somewhere.”

Casale was surprised about the overwhelming response to the page and how he was able to successfully continue “Battling with Brandon” on his own.

“I really didn’t expect so many people to donate to the GoFundMe page that fast,” Casale said. “I honestly thought I would just raise a few hundred bucks from some people and be happy I continued to raise money. But to raise more money than some philanthropy events is unreal. I am so happy it worked.”

Casale’s individual project quickly became a way for the community to come together.

“My original goal was actually $1,000,” Casale said. “Then all of a sudden, I wasn’t just doing this all on my own, and outpouring support came from so many different people. That’s when it hit me that I could maybe get enough support to raise more.”

Casale and the community then realized this wasn’t just one person doing something on his own, but it was a community rallying around a good cause and making the most of the opportunity to donate and fundraise.

As the support grew, and the GoFundMe reached Facebook pages Casale didn’t even know, he knew it was time to extend the goal.

“Once I saw so many people donating and others sharing it, we hit $1,000 in a matter of days and I knew it was time to make it $1,500,” said Casale.

The community and the public responded just as well since the goal of $1,500 was hit a few days after and in about a week the GoFundMe was complete. Something that used to be a semester-long project, and what was planned to be a lengthy fundraiser, was over in the snap of the fingers with endless support. Not only did Casale surpass his original goal, but it was over in an eighth of the time he originally expected.

Casale was shocked by the support, and couldn’t believe how fast it all got done. Even though he started it all, the support helped accelerate the progress.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone, and I am so glad I could positively contribute,” said Casale.

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