“Doing Charity Work Is A BUSINESS” 5 Leadership Lessons with Ashley Janover and Danyelle Shapiro
“Doing charity work is a BUSINESS! We have started a new business and as emotional and sensitive we may be to the cause supporting this endeavor, it is our journey that we built from the ground up. Just like a start-up.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Janover and Danyelle Shapiro
Ashley Janover is the founder of Team Hope and co creator of Purple & White Fight Night. Team Hope, a world wide advocacy organization that has raised awareness throughout North America, Eastern Asia, and the Caribbean- is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the advancement of pancreatic cancer research in order to change the future of this disease. Partnering with the top non-profits in the country, and supported by the most prestigious researchers and doctors — Ashley is destined to find a cure.
Danyelle Shapiro is a full time lawyer by trade but also the founder of Club Shap and co-creator of Purple and White Fight Night. While Danyelle works for the Administration for Children’s Services prosecuting child abuse and neglect cases in her 9 to 5, she has taken on a mission to find a cure in order to prevent another eight year old like her from losing someone close to them. Club Shap started as an advocacy organization for children who were experiencing loss at a young age and has now transformed into raising awareness for lung and pancreatic cancer research. As an ambassor for the Lung Cancer Research Foundation and the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer research, Danyelle works tirelessly to give back in her hope that cancer will be cured.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Ashley — In 2005 was the first time I received the news of my mother being sick. I was still in high school. She battled and beat colon cancer. We celebrated her 5 years in remission before the second fight of her life, and ours would officially begin. I walked into the living room and tried to wrap my head around the news my parents had just delivered to me. They told me what the pain in mom’s back and abdomen was, it was pancreatic cancer that had already spread. The following eleven months changed my life forever. I quickly became the care-taker, which was natural to me because I was raised by my mother. I dedicated every moment of my life to doing all the things that made my mom happy and with a full heart. She received more love in 11 months than most people receive in a life time. but then- the happiness slowly faded as she became sicker. Our family no longer had control over the situation and I decided to channel my sadness into something more meaningful and selfless- philanthropy. While my mom was hooked up to IV’s, receiving chemo-therapy through her port, getting radiation, taking TCH pills in order to stimulate her appetite and fighting to survive — I began hosting events to raise awareness and funds towards the advancement of medical and scientific research. My brother and I researched every 501c3 in the country until we found the right one. The pre requisites included: working in conjunction with the top doctors and researchers that received the highest recognition, had the best score on charity navigator, donating the most amount of money on every dollar raised that went DIRECTLY to medical research, and lastly, an organization that was focused on early diagnostic treatment. We found the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. I lost my mother and best friend to pancreatic cancer 7 years ago, and since this tragic experience, I have dedicated my life to raising money and awareness toward the advancement of pancreatic cancer research. I am as relentless as this disease, and thanks to my mom — I found the silver lining. Now, I am working tirelessly to prevent another child bare witness of their parent suffer as much as my mom did.
Danyelle Shapiro lost her father when she was 8 years old. As the oldest of 3 siblings in a house where community involvement was always stressed Danyelle was always thinking of ways to help her fellow students and those less fortunate. It started with creating club shap in High School to prevent and raise awareness regarding young children going through loss whether it was through death, divorce or otherwise. Danyelle went to her local elementary schools to speak to them about her story because knowing that you are not the only one is half the battle. Along the way Danyelle has had some major influencers in her life who have always promoted philanthropy and giving. Her mother volunteers in a hospital to this day, and Danyelle helped raise money in a tennis marathon for The American Cancer Society while in high school. However, Danyelle always wanted to do something special to raise awareness for lung cancer in memory of her father. Danyelle had a burning passion to be a professional tennis player, and received a scholarship to play division 1 college tennis at Binghamton University. She graduated with a BS in Finance and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Spanish. Due to some injuries and a love for the law (and for arguing) she attended Seton Hall Law, and graduated ready to take on the world. Upon graduation, she felt it was time to start raising awareness that Lung Cancer is still a deadly disease and it is tremendously underfunded. Danyelle started doing research on how she could help and who she could partner with to raise maximum exposure and funds for a cure. She became reacquainted with an old High School friend, Ashley Janover. Ashley was posting all over social media about her mother being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When Danyelle realized that her and Ashley were both living in NYC, she reached out to her for inspiration and advice. Shortly after their meeting at a Barnes and Noble in New York City the idea of the Purple and White Fight Night was born.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Danyelle and Ashley — We founded Purple and White Fight Night in 2014 in an effort to bring community together and honor the memories of our parents. We quickly became the ambassadors for the Lung Cancer Research foundation and the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Given the similar background we both shared, it was without a moment of doubt that we decided to join forces and battle back against these horrific diseases. On top of our full time jobs, we commit year after year to host the most community driven philanthropic event. We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars between the two of us, in only 4 years and 4 events. Purple and White Fight Night is already in an aggressive planning mode for year 5 and we still haven’t even closed the 2018 4th Annual Purple & White Fight Night Campaign! We are so happy to announce that our event which was held on March 10th, 2018 raised OVER 65k. We have bold goals of doubling funds raised, as we do year-after- year. We are organizing to host an even bigger and more elaborate event come 2019, so stay tuned! We also plan to continue to grow our relationships with our two supported charities: The Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and The Lung Cancer Research Foundation. While managing these relationships, we are simultaneously staying up to date with medical and scientific research break throughs,and community building projects.
So tell me a bit more about your organization?
Danyelle and Ashley — Both of us started advocacy organizations: Team Hope & Club Shap that were focused on community outreach, emotional support, awareness campaigns, and raising funds in order to advance medical and scientific research. It was never our intention to combine forces and launch Purple and White Fight, which is not only an event — but an annual campaign that funnels in hundreds of thousands of dollars directly toward the advancement of pancreatic and lung cancer research.
This obviously is not easy work. What drives you?
Ashley- At first my mom was the sole force that drove me to wanting to be the change that the pancreatic cancer community needed — but then, once I collaborated with Danyelle- I quickly learned that there was a need in more than just the pancreatic cancer community. I am here doing the work that I do prevent another child, grandchild, friend or family member, suffer the loss of a pancreatic or lung cancer death.
Danyelle- Thinking about how so many young children have lost their parents without being able to have the time they truly deserve. I want to continue to raise awareness and fund cancer research knowing my efforts can help a young girl like me from losing her father because one day there will be a cure. The only way that cancer can be cured is by continuing to fund research.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Ashley- This is an easy one- it goes without saying that my best friend Danyelle Shapiro is a large part of how I was able to take Team Hope to the next level. I went to high school with Dany in Boca Raton, FL. We didn’t really run in the same crew, because as Dany would say “i was way too cool”. Fast forward 10 years, and I received this Facebook message from Danyelle …
“Hey! I hope everything is going well. So awesome you are in NYC now. I saw your Instagram post about the stuff you have been doing in honor of your mom and I think that it is amazing!! I would love to do something like that in honor of my dad now that I am older and I was too young when he died…Maybe we can grab coffee one day in the next few weeks if you are around and would be willing to talk to me about the stuff that you have been doing? Let me know! It would be great to see you.”
I thought to myself..” I thought to myself, “This girl is so courageous for having the motivation and strength to honor her dad after all these years”. We met for coffee, and the rest was history! We came up with the event that we have now been hosting for the last 4 years: Purple and White Fight Night; purple representing pancreatic cancer and white repenting lung cancer…and it all came to fruition over that one coffee, in this one conversation. Now, we are making a REAL difference in the cancer community, thanks to my way cooler best friend Danyelle.
Danyelle — My partner Ashley Janover has been my best friend and has become a sister throughout this entire process. Without her, I would not have started this event. Her strong willed, passionate personality inspires me every day. Her outlook on this project makes me want to do better and continue to strive for greatness with Purple and White Fight Night.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1) There is a lot of emotional baggage that comes with supporting a cause that is so close to your heart — Every year that we host Purple & White Fight Night, each of us put in a 110 percent of our time, resources and energy (on top of our full time jobs). We never imagined having this crazy emotional component within the planning process that continuously would bring us back to those happy times we shared with our mom and dad, when they were healthy and alive. It is sad, it is very sad. But because we never want another child to suffer such a tragedy — we continue to do the work that we do.
2) Results don’t happen over night — Both of us together, and separately- are all about instant gratification, but what no one told us, was that it is totally unrealistic when it comes to fundraising for a cause to see results over night. It takes a lot of time to develop creditability, relationships and exposure. We are only able to see that 4 years later with the massive progression we make year after year.
3) We wish someone told us how difficult this undertaking would be. The first event we planned together, we did not ask anyone for help. We struggled, but wanted to do every single thing on our own. We realized that using our network to assist us in the months leading up to and during the event was imperative to our success. We still continue to plan everything on our own but as we grow, we reach out to our network for help and in the coming years, we anticipate building a board and expanding our efforts beyond what we have created.
4) Doing charity work is a BUSINESS! We have started a new business and as emotional and sensitive we may be to the cause supporting this endeavor, it is our journey that we built from the ground up. Just like a start-up.
5) Delegate, Delegate, Delegate! We need great people alongside us who are passionate, dedicated and want to be part of the change. Not everything can be done by two people, so we are working to create a village!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see just see this. :-)
Ashley- Warren Buffet, for sure. Not only is he the most successful investor of all time, but he is also the worlds most philanthropic man. Did you know Buffett made an announcement that he would be giving his entire fortune away to charity, committing 85 percent of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? That donation became the largest act of charitable giving in United States history. I mean, how many people do you know made their first investment at 11 years old, started their own business at the age of 13, and enrolled into an ivy league college at 16 other than Warren Buffet? After battling and beating prostate cancer, Buffet’s philanthropic endeavors were focused solely on giving his time to charity and helping build his children’s foundations. It would be an honor to shake Mr. Buffet’s hand.
Danyelle- Mariska Hargitay has always been an inspiration since I was a little girl. Not only did she play one of my favorite roles on television but she is a huge advocate in the philanthropic world directly related to my full time job as a prosecutor for child abuse and neglect cases. Her work as an advocate to raise awareness for abuse and assault victims and her other charitable affiliations are honorable. Her philanthropic drive and impressive skills as an actress and business woman are all things I admire. I am confident that if I sat down with her it would be an invaluable encounter.