Earlier in 2020, I assisted in planning, as well as participated in the 1st Annual Orange Effect Foundation one-day 100-Holes of Golf marathon fundraiser. In the build-up to the marathon, OEF Co-Chairman Joe Pulizzi and I were interviewed by Northeast Ohio Sportscaster Tony Zarrella about the event, the foundation, and what we were hoping to accomplish. One question sort of stumped me, and it really should have been the easiest to answer:
“Why is this cause important to you?”
I mumbled a glib common response, “Well, It’s all about the kids” or something standard and uninspiring like that. And while the interview went pretty well, that one answer really bugged me. And the reason it bothered me is because I was well aware of why it was important, but maybe a little hesitant to admit it.
You see, about 10 years ago I was diagnosed with a mental disorder. For years I earned the reputation of making wild, impetuous, rash decisions in all aspects of my life, almost always to my detriment and those around me. My wife Darlene felt that perhaps there was more to the problem than simply me being reckless and urged me to get tested. Indeed, after days of testing the Doctor agreed. In fact, after my initial shocked reaction he said, “Mr. Balzano, yes you do have it, and trust me it wasn’t exactly a coin flip.” That line still makes me laugh a lot, although not at that moment.
My life improved for good, dramatically, that very day. You must take responsibility for your actions, but instead of beating yourself up over bad past decisions, news like this allows you to look forward and set a plan, including proper treatment, that will instantly change your trajectory.
Still, while I was grateful to receive this gift in my 40’s, it’s human nature to wonder what could have been accomplished had I started treatment and created a plan when I was 10 or 11 years old.
And this is precisely why the Orange Effect Foundation is important to me. They directly assist children in need at the most crucial point in their lives. And their methods have proven to be very successful. With early detection and treatment who knows what heights these children will reach?
We raised over $47,000 for the Orange Effect Foundation that day, which means a lot of kids simply have a better chance because of this one event. I couldn’t be more proud.