June 13, 2013 | Volunteer Spotlight
Rick Nicolini and Michael Stoller Cancer Survivors Giving Back
"If we can make the kids forget about the cancer, then maybe the cancer will forget about the kids!"
When Rick Nicolini (pictured on the left) and Michael Stoller (pictured on the right) met in 2004 they were volunteering at the American Cancer Society’s Camp Adventure in Long Island, NY. Both were cancer survivors and knew how lucky they were, and both felt the need to give back.
“As a volunteer, one of our underlying motives is if we can make the kids forget about the cancer, then maybe the cancer will forget about the kids!" said Nicolini, who began his career at Verizon as a Retail Sales rep with Stoller’s help in 2006.
Stoller, a three-time cancer survivor himself, volunteers for 2 weeks each summer in Barretstown, Ireland, at a camp located on 550 acres of countryside. It’s funded by the Newman’s Own foundation started by the actor Paul Newman, and part of the foundation’s “Hole in the Wall” camps.
“The camp is a magical and wonderful experience.” says Stoller. “My campers are from Hungary, Ireland, and Russia.”
Jaime Pacheco, Camp Adventure’s former director described Stoller as enthusiastic, comical, kind and selfless.
“These are just some of the words I would use to describe Michael,” Pacheco said. I met Mike at Camp Adventure in the summer of 2007 and have seen the joy that he brings to the kids at camp by making them laugh and have a good time. “As a cancer survivor he sets an example to live life to the fullest by achieving his goals, having a family life and setting time aside year round to visit kids in the hospital, run fundraisers and spend time with other volunteers. Without a doubt he has a heart that never hardens and a temper that never tires.”
Pacheco said she met Rick the same year she met Stoller.
“That was my first summer at Camp Adventure, and Rick was the first person to greet me,” Pacheco said. “He had such an ease about him that was warm and inviting. I saw how the kids thought he was cool and would follow him everywhere. It wasn't until 2 or 3 summers later that I learned he had survived cancer when he was much younger.
“He was there to give back to HIS childhood camp. I knew then why the kids thought he was cool. He had walked in their shoes, fought a similar battle & really made it look effortless. He was, and is, an everyday hero to those kids. He befriends them all and is always mindful of the ones that may need a little extra TLC. His lesson to me has always been to sit back; enjoy the ride and never let 'em see you sweat the small stuff, Pacheco said.”
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