In this installment of "From the Heart," read about how a family member’s fight with cancer prompted one executive to join the battle; one former officer’s allegiance to fellow soldiers’ families drives him to help children of fallen comrades; a retired trader spends his time giving back to the community.
A Trader Battles Against Cancer in the Family
It was a personal issue for STANY president Steve Kay of Knight Capital. This year, in selecting a president’s charity, Kay wants to fight back. So he selected the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity.
Komen is probably the most widely known and best-funded breast cancer organization in the United States.
Diagnosed with breast cancer, Susan G. Komen spent her last days thinking of how to help women battling the same disease.
"Moved by Susan’s compassion for others and committed to making a difference," the organization’s Web site says, "Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever."
Since 1982, Komen has raised $1.5 billion for research and education.
Is this story why Kay chose this group? It is one reason. Another is that Kay’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer about three years ago.
"Having witnessed her and many other friends’ and families’ courageous fight, I felt this was a great way to make a difference and give back," Kay says.
How is Kay’s mother-in-law doing?
Susan Komen would be happy. Kay reports that "she’s in remission and doing much better."
A Brother’s Death Leads to Help for Hundreds
In 1989, David Kim-today co-head of global equity at Apax Partners-was serving in Operation Just Cause in Panama as a lieutenant. Sgt. William Delaney Gibbs, who was in his battalion, died in action.
Sgt. Gibbs was married, with a child on the way. Although Kim didn’t personally know Gibbs, he considered him "one of my brothers."
Kim, who later became successful in private equity, thought of Gibbs. He wanted to ensure that the sergeant’s child would have a college education.
Indeed, he thought of thousands of children of combat fatalities. He also wanted to remember the children of veterans who die in training exercises.
So Kim created the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. It has helped hundreds of children and hopes to increase that number.
Kim says that although there is government higher-education aid for these college aspirants, it is sometimes insufficient or is delayed.
"One of the big things we need is to assemble a database of children of veterans who need help," he says. "Finding all of the children is one of major objectives of our foundation." Kim has never forgotten his military training. He says that soldiers rely on each other in combat. And, he says, "In this way I hope to continue to serve my brothers."
A Veteran Trader Who Made the Most During a Time Away from the Industry
What happens when a trading pro retires from the industry or is between jobs? "You try to give back," says longtime trading pro Nick Ponzio.
Successful traders often have time and capital contacts to help build and expand charities. Ponzio had always been interested in the Emergency Children’s Help Organization-or ECHO.
During his years at Hill, Thompson, Magid & Co., Ponzio had been involved with many of the firm’s charities, including a charity that delivered Christmas presents to the inner city kids each year. But he had also contributed to ECHO. But then he left Hill Thompson about four years ago and found himself looking for new ventures.
"I decided that, since I had a lot more time, why not spend more time working with ECHO?" says Ponzio, who now is president of private equity firm Wolcot Capital. So Ponzio became a member of ECHO’s board.
"I’ve been much more hands-on. I’ve visited family homes [to help determine] who should receive grants. I’ve helped work on our fund-raisers," Ponzio says. "It is very satisfying to help a child or a family struggling with high medical bills."
Ponzio’s experience was similar to that of ECHO’s founder, Sebastian Angelico, a former commodities trader. Angelico had retired, but wanted to help children and families trying to survive high medical bills.
"When I learn of a child who is in need," Angelico wrote in a mission statement, "I believe ECHO will be able to help."