Meet Three of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest

Meet a few faces from the 2015 Pittsburgh's 50 Finest event and learn how they raised funds and awareness for the CF cause.

Aug. 21, 2015 | 4 min read
Julia Alpaio_square
Julia Alpaio

Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest celebrated its 20th anniversary with a record breaking year. On August 13, 2015, the Western Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh Chapter honored the young professionals who collectively raised more than $400,000 for the CF Foundation. Early on, the 50 honorees of the 2015 class -- many with no direct connection to CF -- had committed themselves to raising at least $3,000 a piece, but several of them raised much more. 

The 2015 Pittsburgh's 50 Finest honoree class.

The 2015 Pittsburgh's 50 Finest honoree class.

The following 10 honorees led the way with the highest fundraising totals:

  • Phil Laboon, $31,310
  • Jordon Nicholas, $18,969
  • Joel Acie, $18,172
  • Gretchen Dimeling, $14,375
  • Addie Perkins, $13,500
  • Jessica Ferragonio, $13,250
  • Sara Ruth, $13,168
  • Joerose Tharakan, $12,400
  • Dr. Jennifer Wildpret, $12,392
  • Josh Pisarcik, $11,015

Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest, home of the CF Foundation’s first and longest running Finest event, is a six month fundraising and awareness campaign that involved learning from a care center doctor, meeting people living with CF and networking opportunities with event alumni, mentors and fellow nominees. 

So without further ado, please meet some of the faces of the 2015 Pittsburgh's 50 Finest honorees.

Marcus Morelli

“I learned so much from this campaign, and I give Heather a lot of credit for that.”
Marcus, seen here with Heather, raised more than $10,000.

In June 2013, Marcus attended a kickball tournament run by a friend who was raising money for Heather Hunter, an adult with CF (and the 2014-15 Pittsburgh's 50 Finest keynote speaker). Marcus and Heather became fast friends, and he was immediately inspired to take on her cause. Marcus combined his passion and professional life of filmmaking with his desire to make a difference. He created a short documentary of Heather's life and daily struggles with CF. This short film earned Marcus a nomination for the Finest campaign, and he continued to use filmmaking to raise more than $10,000. Marcus plans to continue raising awareness for cystic fibrosis through filmmaking and hosting other fundraising events next year.

Caroline McCarthy

“Getting to know the other honorees and seeing how excited and passionate they were helped me a lot with my own fundraising.”
Caroline brought in a total of $6,000.

Caroline found herself volunteering at a CF event last fall by chance. At the time, she had no direct connection to cystic fibrosis and knew very little about the disease. That night she met a CF mom and a dedicated volunteer who were so struck by Caroline that they were inspired to nominate her. Initially intimidated by the idea of asking friends and family for donations, Caroline was encouraged by her fellow honorees to take on the challenge.  In just two months time, Caroline hosted three different fundraising events: a happy hour, a barre workout and a tailgating event that brought in a total of $6,000. Caroline plans on staying involved with the Pittsburgh Finest event in the future, either as a mentor or serving on the committee.

Joel Acie

“When they announced that we had raised over $400,000, there was a huge roar in the room, and we were all high-fiving, hugging and just in awe.”
Joel raised more than $18,000.

Joel raised more than $18,000.

For Joel, getting involved with the CF Foundation was an easy yet personal decision because of a good friend living with cystic fibrosis. Joel raised more than $18,000 by asking everyone he knew from his personal and professional networks to contribute. Despite being one of the top three honoree fundraisers, Joel believes that all 50 honorees contributed to the event's success. Joel already has plans in place to volunteer at several chapter and local events throughout the end of this year and beyond.

While the event on August 13th may have marked the end of the Finest campaign for the 2015 honoree class of Pittsburgh, for most this is just the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the Foundation. We will surely see many of them around in the future.

Congratulations and many thanks to all of the honorees!

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Julia Alpaio_square

Julia joined the CF Foundation in 2011. She works on volunteer engagement initiatives including the Volunteer Leadership Conference, the teamMATEs program, and managing the new national young professionals program called Tomorrow's Leaders.  She was first introduced to Foundation through a friend in college, and has been inspired by the CF community ever since.

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