Fundraising for a Greater Good
The Penn State Cancer Institute holds special meaning to Tom and Kathy Sposito, who are not only University volunteers and donors, but are also both previous patients and recipients of the Institute’s care.
“Our connection to Penn State is something we both share coming from very different angles, but it’s become a touchstone for our common purpose as a couple and family,” Tom said.
Tom’s experiences at the Penn State Cancer Institute are also what inspired his wife, Kathy, to go to the hospital for a second opinion when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and ultimately, where she decided to receive treatment.
Kathy recalled her cancer journey, beginning with a call from Dr. Hohl informing him of his diagnosis and culminating in a pre-surgery conversation with Dr. Smith and Dr. MacKay, who said, “Lots of things can go wrong, but we have seen it all and we got it.”
“Those two moments inspired me and continue to inspire me five years later to share all that Penn State has to offer,” Kathy said.
Kathy added, “As a result of my experience, I wanted to pay it forward to others who are diagnosed with breast cancer by sharing the great care I received at the Institute and then by creating an endowment to help women in need and to further breast cancer research.”
In addition to philanthropic contributions, Tom and Kathy both serve as volunteer leaders—Tom on the Hershey Campaign Committee, and Kathy on the Cancer Institute Development Committee and Stewardship Committee at University Park.
As a member of the Stewardship Committee, Kathy’s main responsibility is to provide feedback and create experiences for donors that continue to tie them to the University and its impact on students, alumni, patients, and the broader community. Kathy shares her story to help others understand the premier medical care available at the Penn State Cancer Institute and to introduce many different stakeholders who might be interested and inspired to help those in need.
“I am grateful for all that I have been able to accomplish in my life so far, but all of that only means something to me if I can share, coach, teach, and benefit others in need,” Kathy said.
As the alumnus of the couple, Tom feels blessed to have attended and graduated from Penn State and believes in the mission, values, and purpose of the institution. And even though Kathy became involved with Penn State after marrying Tom, she shares his same passion. “I believe it’s important for all of us to pay it forward—sharing time, dollars, and experiences with others to make all lives better,” she explained. “Penn State has a tremendous outreach and can impact the world in a positive and inspiring way. I want to be a part of that!”
Both Tom and Kathy have seen their time and treasure pay off by ensuring patients gain access to life-changing medical procedures; helping students earn their college education; supporting athletics programs that allow students and fans to come together around shared experiences; promoting research in areas that make the world a better place; and challenging others to see the difference they can create.
“It makes my heart and soul full!” Kathy said. “We believe and make it a part of our every day to help others in many ways.”
Tom and Kathy have also inspired a passion for Penn State in their children. The Spositos are a Penn State family with two sons who are Penn State alumni and another who will graduate in 2023.
“Penn State and its reach meet our need to change the lives of students who otherwise would not be able to attend college without philanthropy,” Tom and Kathy said. “We donate our time and money because it feels good and we can see direct benefit generated from our efforts.”