The Faces of ISF … Meet “Coach” Tom Patania

Names/ages of dogs: Sydney (11), Bella (9), Lucky (3)

Years married and to whom: Going on 18 years with Lo Patania

Years in Charlotte: 11

Neighborhood: Glen Laurel, Indian Land, SC

Hometown: Utica, MI

College Alumni: Oakland Community College

Occupation: Credit Manager for ESP Associates, P.A.

Years Involved with the Foundation: 4 years

What is your role with the Foundation: Isabella’s Dream Team Coach, also help with social media and the marketing committee.

How did your involvement with ISF begin? In 2013, after a disheartening experience with one of the large cancer charities, I searched for a local charity that was making a difference in my community. I like to think that I didn’t find ISF, but that ISF found me. Once I watched the emotional 8 minute video on their website, I fell in love with this little girl whom I would never have the opportunity to meet. I reached out to ISF and set up a First Giving page with a very lofty goal (which was crushed thanks to very generous donors!). I first ran the RnR Savannah half marathon, as support to my wife who was also running it, and then the next weekend, I ran the Thunder Road half marathon (now named Charlotte Marathon). It was while I was running Thunder Road, that I hatched the plan to create a team to run this race the following year. Isabella’s Dream Team was born on the streets of Charlotte, NC.

What is your favorite story about Isabella? Unfortunately, I only have heard stories are the ones that have been shared by those that knew her. Seeing videos of her and hearing that sweet voice keeps me motivated. She is the absolute heart of our team.

What is one of your top ISF moments? Being the originator of Isabella’s Dream Team makes me incredibly proud. We start the season as individuals, but the miles we run in honor of Isabella and all the children currently fighting cancer binds us as a team. We become motivated to fight for our cause and draw inspiration from one another to achieve our goals. The distance doesn’t seem as daunting when you are running for a little girl whose dreams were cut 80 years short. To date, we’ve raised more than $150,000 and are just about to begin season three.

Where do you see ISF in 5 years? In one word: everywhere.

What is something you think ISF could improve on this year? The only thing that comes to mind is sharing how ISF is making impact, not only in our Charlotte community, but nationally. I think when people see good being done in their community, they want to become involved.

Who are your role models? My parents. I lost my dad when I was about to graduate from high school, but in our short time together he taught me the value of hard work (and elbow grease). I lost my mom to cancer five years ago, and she taught me how to be compassionate. I work to make them proud every day.

What is something about you that would surprise people? I used to be a (very mediocre) DJ back in the day with two turntables and a microphone.

What is your biggest pet peeve? One of my pet peeves is when people don’t go all the way down to the ground on a push up.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done? It has to be watching both of my parents battle illness. There is something so helpless about the whole process of dying and I cannot even begin to comprehend going through the death of a child.

What do you love to do in Charlotte? Run. Eat. Drink.

What are a couple of your guilty pleasures? Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (with either the brownie batter or caramel core)

Who is your celebrity crush? Currently: Ellie Goulding

What is your favorite drink? Hell or High Watermelon by 21st Amendment (sorry local breweries, you all come in a close second)

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