The winner of the Invest in Others 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award is Peter Chieco, managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, for educating the public about thalassemia, including Cooley’s anemia/thalassemia major, through his work with Cooley’s Anemia Foundation for over three decades.
“Fueled by his desire to see his daughter live a long and healthy life, Peter Chieco has played a critical role in raising awareness and funds for Cooley’s Anemia for more than 30 years,” said Megan McAuley, executive director of the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation. “Through his leadership and dedication, the Foundation has improved the quality of life and lifespans for thousands of patients. Peter has truly made a lasting impact on this community.”
The foundation announced Chieco as the category winner with a video presentation released Thursday. The live celebration of the group’s 15th annual awards in Boston was canceled this year due to the pandemic. Honorees of the other categories were released earlier this week.
The two additional finalists in this category were Ferdinand Garcia at Woodbury Financial for his work with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Dan Jenkins at JKS Financial for his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.
Each of the finalists will receive $20,000 for their charities and Chieco will receive $75,000 for Cooley’s Anemia Foundation.
The profiles below about the philanthropic efforts of Chieco, Garcia and Jenkins were written by Deborah Nason.
LIFETIME ACHIVEMENT AWARD WINNER PETER CHIECO
Managing director, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
One person with intense preparation and determination can make the National Institutes of Health budge. So learned Peter Chieco, managing director with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in Greenwich, Connecticut, during his advocacy for the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation.
Cooley’s anemia is a genetic blood disorder that renders red blood cells defective, resulting in severe anemia. The only way to sustain life is a life-long combination of biweekly blood transfusions and daily iron removal therapy. Chieco started volunteering with the foundation decades ago, when his baby daughter was diagnosed with the disorder.
In 1996, he and a team of volunteers met with a decision-maker at the NIH who had repeatedly turned down the foundation’s request to fund a national resource network for the rare disease.
“He had 10 objections and we had 10 rebuttals,” Chieco said. “We showed how there was no uniform protocol for care nationwide, how this research could help other diseases, and that there was strong support from the most susceptible ethnic groups [Italians and Asians].”
The decision-maker relented.
The assent had a dramatic effect, Chieco said, leading to a significant increase in survivability. Until recently, life expectancy was in the teens, and now his 32-year-old daughter is a mom.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FINALIST FERDINAND GARCIA
Account executive, Woodbury Financial
“I would not be alive today if it weren’t for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation,” said Ferd Garcia, account executive with Woodbury Financial Services Inc. in San Francisco. Now a board member, he has volunteered with the foundation for more than two decades.
The nonprofit provided emotional support and role models 24 years ago for Garcia, who was terrified of coming out as a gay man, especially with the fear of contracting HIV/AIDS. In 2002, when he did test positive for HIV, SFAF gave him hope, directing him and others like him to the life-sustaining treatment that was just emerging.
The foundation saves lives in other ways, said Garcia, including providing free HIV tests to its primarily low- or no-income clientele; needle exchanges to eliminate HIV transmission; services for HIV survivors, including care, housing and a social network; and health advocacy in general for the LGBTQ+ community.
“As an adviser, I’ve been able to combine my career with philanthropy. I always encourage my clients to get involved, whether donating time or money,” Garcia said. “My personal mission is that to live is to make a difference in somebody else’s life. As an adviser, as an activist, that’s what I do.”
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FINALIST DAN JENKINS
Founder, JKS Financial
Once Dan Jenkins, founder of JKS Financial in Pittsburgh, started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, he got hooked. He began as a Big Brother in his mid-20s for about four years, then took on numerous volunteer leadership roles within the organization for 34 years and counting.
The nationally recognized chapter provides mentors to children ages 8 to 18, most of whom come from foster care or single-parent homes. There are several ways in which mentor relationships are facilitated, including:
- Community-based: Mentors pick up their Littles at their homes, usually twice a month, to spend some time together and also get to know their families.
- Mentor 2.0: Mentors go to the high schools and have lunch with their Littles twice a month.
- Bigs in Blue: Police officers are matched up with kids.
- Corporate-based: Kids are taken to the large corporate offices, where they meet with employee “Bigs.”
Jenkins sees the long-term impact that mentoring has had on the children over the decades.
“If you get these kids through high school — then college, the military or trade school — that’s success,” he said. “With good mentoring, they become contributors to society.”
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