A tale of heart, grit and giving before the holidays fade from view.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
This column was supposed to be about food – more specifically, what new restaurant machinations are moving this way in 2012. By the same token, Corral de Tierra resident Brian Poma’s junior and senior years were supposed to be about things like football and finals.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. (Look for the ’12 peek-ahead in a week.)
Poma was my lab partner in physics, my fellow staffer on the Monterey High paper and, for playing middle linebacker at a slight 5’10”, 175, one of my heroes. He was also diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma right after Christmas of his junior year, just before turning 17.
Through the treatments he lost 40 pounds, all of his hair and none of his tenacity – he actually returned to the field his senior year to help win the CCS championship. Unbeknown to Poma, a local group checked on him constantly, lent vital support to the family and helped defray the costs for critical CAT scans: The Frank Sollecito Jr. Leukemia Fund, set up after the tragic loss of multisport superstar Frankie, buffers local families with sick kids from the unseen costs of cancer that insurance doesn’t cover – the gas to Stanford, the motel rooms, another expensive test.
“It’s hard enough when you’re doing everything you can to save your child’s life,” says Poma’s mom, Pat. “Their contribution – financially and otherwise – is so important to families. People think insurance takes care of it all, but it goes so far beyond. You need this to win the battle. They’re like angels.”
Last week, almost exactly 19 years after his diagnosis, Poma walked into a Monterey office where board member Judi Marotta helps manage the fund and handed her a check for $15,000.
“We can help more Monterey County families,” she says. “It’s a pay-it-forward story.”
The aid came from an noteworthy place. Poma is a partner at Neumeier Poma Investment Counsel, where founder Peter Neumeier decided the LLC would donate part of its profits every year to local nonprofits. For his share, Poma chose the Frankie Jr. fund.
“Peter has been a powerful mentor in modeling how to give back,” Poma says.
There’s more giving where that comes from: NPIC also helps anchor the Monterey County Gives! effort, which wraps Saturday, Dec. 31. The firm’s support is key to the $100,000 match that goes to area nonprofits like the Food Bank and Rape Crisis Center when locals like you and me stop by www.montereycountygives.com, check out the “Big Ideas” they have for making a difference, and make a modest donation.