Pancreatic cancer has affected so many members of the Saint Ignatius High School community.
It also struck close to Vince Fagnilli personally. That's part of the reason why the Saint Ignatius senior wants to help make a difference.
And that's why Fagnilli and the Saint Ignatius Athletic Department are working together to sell T-shirts to raise money for pancreatic cancer research, starting on Saturday at the Saint Ignatius basketball game.
When Fagnilli was in seventh grade, his godmother passed away suddenly. Just a few weeks beforehand, she had been handed a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a very deadly form of the awful disease. The death of his godmother had a profound impact upon him at a young age.
Many other members of the Saint Ignatius community have fought cancer, with several battling pancreatic cancer. The beloved Theology teacher Jim Skerl '74 passed away five years ago after a bout with pancreatic cancer.
So, Fagnilli came up with the idea of selling T-shirts to fund cancer research. Inspired by so many who have been affected by cancer, Fagnilli set about designing a T-shirt and figuring out how to sell it. In this way, Fagnilli could combine two things he loves – designing clothes and helping others.
"I got the inspiration from my godfather. I wanted to recognize the people in the community who have helped those affected by cancer," Fagnilli said. "Cancer is hard, both physically and emotionally. I get my inspiration from caretakers, like my godfather, and how they live their lives. I wanted to help out in any way I could."
Every single dollar raised from the shirts will be donated to fund pancreatic cancer research. Fagnilli's goal is to raise as much as possible.
Fagnilli also hopes that this becomes an annual tradition, expanding even more.
"I hope this becomes an annual fundraiser every year," Fagnilli said. "We can recognize people in the community who have lived and helped people with cancer, through it all. I'm a senior and I only have five more months left, but I want to make a lasting impact past the time I am here."
The Saint Ignatius basketball team will be wearing these shirts during warmups on Saturday prior to the Wildcats' game vs. Cleveland Central Catholic game in Sullivan Gym.
"Vince is pretty special. For Vince to go out of his way and work so hard on something like this is great," said Athletic Directory Rory Fitzpatrick '88. "He's following in a long line of student leaders at Saint Ignatius who have taken up this cause year after year, along with the great coaches who have done the same. It's been a longstanding tradition to do this."
Students, fans, and alumni can purchase these shirts, as well. Email Fagnilli at email@example.com. Shirts are $15 apiece. If someone would like to donate money towards the fundraiser, they can email Fagnilli.
Shirts will be available for pickup next week in the Athletic Department!