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2021 Class of Rising Stars – Deanna DiSalvo

Deanna DiSalvo is known for running marathons, but her stamina extends well beyond her races. Her tremendous focus and endurance manifest in her volunteerism and her on-going commitment to several causes in Kansas City.

Deanna began her work in philanthropy in a simple way; she wanted to connect with other young professionals. When asked to serve, she jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back! After initially volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City, she has continued to build on her philanthropic efforts. Her passion for fundraising has made Deanna a go-to champion for organizations such as The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Opes Charitable Foundation, and Ronald McDonald House Charities Kansas City.

While fundraising may be something some people shy away from, Deanna is energized by raising dollars for organizations and sets goals that she not only reaches but exceeds. Fundraising always presents its challenges, but due to the pandemic, 2020 proved to be an even more challenging year than most. In spite of those challenges, Deanna was able to raise more than $102,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society when she was a candidate in the organization’s 2020 Man & Woman of the Year campaign. Undeterred by the inability to convene groups in person, Deanna used her creativity, passion, and drive to host virtual events to not only reach her goal but to also raise awareness. When asked about her motivation to persist with her efforts during the pandemic, she simply said, “Cancer doesn’t stop. The need for research and early detection still exists.” Deanna’s unwavering focus led her to be one of only two individuals who raised more than $100,000 during the 10-week campaign.

Deanna entered into philanthropy with a desire to connect with others, and she has done that and so much more. Many of the organizations she volunteers for consider her a treasured member of their team. Morgan Hicks, LLS, said, “Deanna has become not only a great addition to our LLS family but also a dear friend to many of the staff members here.” Deanna’s philanthropy is matched by her ability to connect with people in meaningful ways to offer support when needed.

Her winning spirit and heart for philanthropy led Deanna to co-found the Green Tie Gala with her cousin, Chuck Cuda. To make the event a success, Deanna was able to use her event planning and organizational skills to execute the large fundraiser with few volunteers. She and Chuck brought their vision to life, and, since its inauguration in August 2018, the event has raised more than $830,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission. As Morgan Hicks shared, “In just four short years she has been able to help raise more than $900,000 for LLS which is an accomplishment very few can say they have done.”

Chuck Cuda, Opes Charitable Foundation, had this to say about his cousin, “I have seen many examples of her gracious heart and talents and have been impressed by her character, diligence, and work ethic.” This goal-getter already has her sights set on her next big goal — running the Boston Marathon. Deanna has set a goal of running all six of the World Marathon Majors, each time raising money for causes she believes in. With each race, she challenges herself to reach new fundraising goals while bringing awareness.

When not volunteering and giving of her time and treasure, Deanna works as a senior project manager for H&R Block, where she is a member of the company’s community giving committee. Deanna is an amazing aunt to her five nieces and nephews, and a loyal friend, sister, and treasured community member.

Also featured in the October 16, 2021 issue of The Independent
By Nicole Jacobs Silvey
Photo Credit: Tom Styrkowicz

Nicole Jacobs Silvey

Nicole is passionate about philanthropy and spent more than 20 years working in the non-profit sector. She became a contributing writer for The Independent in April of 2021 and enjoys telling the stories of Kansas City’s most noted leaders. When not writing for The Independent, she dedicates her time as the Founder and President of Connection Coach KC. Nicole can most often be found cheering on her son, Rowan, during a sporting event or spending time volunteering at one of the many organizations she admires. Nicole and her husband, Patrick, enjoy raising Rowan and Cooper (their golden puppy!) in Kansas City, a community they love to call home.

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