Dig Deep, Go Far

,Dominic Wilson entered the world with a rough start—born with an intracranial hemorrhage that caused seizures and stopped his heart soon after his birth. He had to be resuscitated several times with CPR and a defibrillator. “My mom told me how scary it was being a single mother alone in the hospital room, with doctors coming in and saying ‘Your son just was resuscitated.’ And then be told again and again ‘Your son might not make it.’ They said that I might grow up with seizures for the rest of my life.” Fortunately, that never happened. A brief glance at Wilson’s work ethic and fitness trajectory belies the notion that he has any sort of medical disadvantage.

Now 24 years old, Wilson was born in Lewiston, Maine and raised in South Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers University two years early from a five year program, earning his Baccalaureate degree in accounting and finance, with a minor in economics. Typical of his inclination to push limits, Dominic took nine classes one semester; and also worked full-time in public accounting during his third year of college. These days he expends some of his energy working as an accountant for the Siegfried Group and does consulting work for Fortune 1000 companies. But it seems the majority of his energy is spent pushing his other boundaries.

As early as first grade, Dominic’s parents would take him to a gym that did group weight and track training with kids of the same age. As a 5-year old, he just tolerated it. He preferred football, which was a constant with the exception of a few year hiatus because of migraines. He returned to lifting and football in seventh grade; by the time he got to high school, he was strongest in his class in the weight room. Smiling, Dominic shares “I was like, okay. I like having this lead!” He kept pushing and pushing, setting several school weightlifting records along the way. He played football for three of his four years in high school because he’d had too many concussions. In his fourth year the coach let him suit, but he was sidelined because of his post-concussion syndrome, which still affects him today. “I haven’t felt the same since my last concussion. There’s always this feeling inside my head, a kind of mental fog. But I’m blessed that I was able to still perform highly academically and professionally.” Despite being in excellent shape, Wilson is focusing his attention on a new challenge, endurance. “A good friend, Adam Sikora, who is also a big guy, was doing Strong Man competitions and also did an Iron Man. After seeing Adam do it, I thought maybe there’s something to this.” With that, Dominic started endurance training. Before long he registered for his first triathlon—a half Ironman—“because I wanted to push my mind.” Listening to endurance athletes like David Goggins and Cameron Haynes inspired Dominic “I found this dark place that I wanted to go to—one that I don’t find in powerlifting. Endurance is a whole different beast.”

When a guy who can bench 405, squat 500, and deadlift 650 dismisses such feats as “not enough suck,” you know he’s built different. Wilson puts a finer point on this idea: “Don’t get me wrong, there’s a struggle when you’re pushing that hard. Deadlifting 650…it’s only a three to five second push; then it’s done and you rack it. You’re not digging as deep as you’d have to to get through an Ironman. I’ve pushed myself academically, professionally, and physically in many ways; now I want to round myself out by pushing my mental limits [with endurance challenges].”

And push limits he will. Dominic will represent Legacy of Hope as a sponsored athlete in not one, but two grueling events: The New Jersey State Triathlon—where he’ll “double down” by competing in the sprint distance and Olympic distances on July 15th and 16th respectively—and in September the PHL24, which will be his first 24 hour event.

Wilson lost his grandfather to cancer in 2022. “After being diagnosed with lung cancer my grandfather was given a year—he ended up fighting it for four years. He was given kind of an ultimatum—live maybe three months with no treatment, or possibly a year if he received it. He took the treatment.” A week after Dominic’s grandfather passed, he saw ,Kellen Matthews’ Instagram post about completing 70+ miles running the “Rocky” steps at the PHL24 and was intrigued. “I also read the article ,Does Not Compute about John Sullivan and sent it to my girlfriend; I told her ‘This is gold!’ She’s like, ‘what’s wrong with you?!?’ It’s funny. I started pushing, and now she’s eyeing up the Philly Marathon.”

Surprisingly, Wilson has yet to connect with the Earn Your Break (EYB) crew. But it won’t be long, because EYB’s ,James Grauel will also be competing in the NJ State Triathlon with him. His mindset is cut from the same cloth as EYB, whose members are known for operating well outside of their comfort zones. When asked if he has a favorite activity between endurance running, biking or swimming, Dominic replies: “I just want to find what sucks the most. I started out just wanting to get a taste of it, just do a Half Ironman.” His calendar for the next several months makes it clear that “just a taste” is not part of his mindset. “I’m striving to push my limits; to go to that dark place where my lights flicker, and even go out, but I’m able to dig deep and spark the flame to keep going.” Toward that end, Dominic started training with endurance coach Ryan Dreyer in September 2022 and has been grinding nonstop since—at the gym, at the pool, the track, on his bike. He’s packing his calendar with events that will no doubt help him find “the suck”—multiple half marathons and triathlons (including sprint, Olympic, half and full Ironman lengths*), frequently “double dosing” with events done back-to-back on consecutive days. *,Triathlon distances.

Wilson shares “I have a good friend who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and he turned his life a complete 180 [for the better] because of his cancer. He dug deep, got super fit, and he’s still in remission. Some people don’t have the opportunities to do that after they get a cancer diagnosis. I want to show myself that I’m able to do it for the people who can’t. The least I can do is to give back. My body is 100% able and willing; but is my mind?” Given Dominic’s accomplishments to date, there’s no doubt that he will dig deep, then a little deeper, and deeper still, and go far, establishing new thresholds in his quest to find the suck. We’re honored to have him as part of the Legacy of Hope family.

If you’re ready to dig deep and Dominic’s lead, ,Sign up for the New Jersey State Triathlon (NJST). You can ,register to race NJST for free. You’ll receive a Legacy of Hope fundraising page; and when you raise $500 your registration fees will be refunded. (All Sprint, Olympic, Double Down and Relay Team athletes are eligible.)

,Support Dominic’s New Jersey State Triathlon fundraising efforts by becoming a donor. Every dollar helps support emergency services for cancer patients. Legacy of Hope is proud to announce the expansion of the Emergency Patient Support Network (EPSN) to New Jersey! The EPSN has provided hope for over 5,000 cancer patients and family members in Philadelphia, addressing critical, non-medical needs in the oncology population. Emergency support referrals are received from social workers and oncology teams, identifying patients in dire need. This network of hospitals, grocery stores, schools, local businesses, volunteers and the Philadelphia Police Department provide emergency patient support; with a response time less than 24 hours in the most critical cases. Hunger and homelessness have been prevented; heat, hot water and electricity shut-offs have been averted. Through the network, cancer patients in Philadelphia have hope. The time to bring it across the bridge is now. The EPSN will be operating in Camden, stepping in when cancer patients have exhausted all other resources and no longer have the capacity to provide themselves and their family with basic necessities. Legacy of Hope will work with New Jersey partners to prevent hunger and homelessness for cancer patients in our neighboring city.

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Michele Redrow

Michele is a Director on the Legacy of Hope board and also serves on the Executive Committee.

Gina Mancuso

Gina’s experience as the very successful co-owner of CoreFitness, LLC coupled with her expertise in planning special events makes her the perfect Vice President for Legacy of Hope. With energy, passion, and drive that makes her seem superhuman, Gina’s connection to our mission is a personal one.

“Both my father and my dear childhood friend were diagnosed with cancer within 3 months of one another. They were surrounded and supported by friends and family throughout their battle and until their passing. No one should suffer through a diagnosis alone and, without Legacy of Hope, some people would do just that.”

greg garber

Greg Garber is the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

dr. kevin kelly

Dr. Kevin Kelly leads Legacy of Hope’s Scientific Review Board to seek out and support the most promising cancer research in Philadelphia using a merit-based system.  He is Jefferson’s Director of Solid Tumor Oncology.

David April

David is the founder of the Fishtown Beer Runners, an organization with chapters all over the world based here in Philadelphia.

joseph ruggieri, jr

Education: Bachelor’s of Science from West Chester University in Management and Finance

Bio: As a member of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.’s upper management team, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge regarding finances, management, team-building and planning to the Legacy of Hope board. Joseph linked up with Michael, our President, and Wells Fargo began supporting Legacy of Hope annually.

“My father passed away from what started as Colon Cancer in 2015. Cancer is horrible and if there is something I can do to help others impacted I would want to be a part of it.”

mary chicorelli

Professional:  Mary is a certified city planner for Philadelphia, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Pro Bono Honor Roll First Judicial District of Philadelphia.

Bio: Mary’s insight into the legal world is invaluable to Legacy of Hope, both in keeping our daily operations moving fluidly as well as making connections for our patients and their families when needed.

“Michael reached out to me about 2 years ago through mutual friends. We worked together to help a woman with stage 4 cancer get her electricity turned back on after it was shut off during the winter. I’ve been 100% supportive of Mike’s vision since then.”

Kimberly S. Reed

An award winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive, nationally recognized thought leader, expert, strategist and advisor to some of the world’s most influential organizations in global professional services, health care, financial services, consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Kimberly is a seasoned leader in transforming organizations into high-performing enterprises and challenging leaders to live without limits, with more than 20 years of HR, talent acquisition, and diversity & inclusion experience; successfully turning around troubled diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping high-performing cultures at global organizations with robust strategies, global employee development programs and enterprise-wide initiatives that have increased revenue growth and organizational brand eminence.

Dr. Claudia Capparelli, PhD

Affiliations: Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Education: PhD, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy – 2011

Focus & Impact:  Focus on the role of the SOX10 transcription factor with regard to tumor cell heterogeneity and plasticity across multiple genotypes in melanoma. Investigating how SOX10 plasticity/heterogeneity affects the response to MEKi and anti-ErbB3 combinations in WT BRAF melanoma patients. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Outrun the Sun Melanoma Research Scholar Award

  • Unical Fellowship Visiting Scholar

  • International Pigment Cell Conference Travel Award

  • Best Poster Presentation, Ninth Annual Jefferson Post-doctoral Research

  • INPDAP Fellowship for Student Merit 

  • University of Calabria Fellowships for Student Merit 

Bryan Lathrop

Bio Coming Soon

Maree Lavo

Bio Coming Soon

Carol Sollenberger

Bio Coming Soon

Rebecca Blinn

Bio Coming Soon

Nia Andrews

Bio Coming Soon

Dr. Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Affiliations: The Wistar Institute, The Chen Laboratory, University of Maryland

Education: PhD,Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dean’s Award for outstanding dissertation) – 2006

Focus & Impact:  Focus is on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards​:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy Award

  • Susan G. Komen, CCR Basic/Translational and Clinical application

  • The V Foundation for Cancer Research Award

  • Dissertation Research Award, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 

Michael Rowe

Awards:

Volatile Media Management’s Mover, Shaker, Changemaker Award – February 2017

Miles Mack Community Services & Leadership Honorable Mention – 2016 TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2015

TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2014

Bio:

With his free time so limited, Michael manages to fuse his work with his other passion: running. Whether it is with the Fishtown Beer Runners, our own Team Relentless Hope, or his closest friends, Michael can often be spotted on the streets of Philadelphia keeping himself fit and active.