When testicular cancer survivor Frank DeBlasi started his nonprofit organization Ballsfest in 2013, his mission was to use his story and his reliance on fun to empower and lift the spirits of Ballers—children and young adults battling all forms of cancer. After years of providing a good time, DeBlasi has decided it’s time for a slight refresh. “As we have significantly grown, today the foundation is truly all about all the Ballers and their story, not mine,” he explains. “So we’ve decided to rename it The Baller Dream Foundation, and our annual event will be called Baller Bash.” Here’s how he’s keeping things rolling.
What does being a Baller mean?
It’s a modern-day term for someone doing well, living well. We affectionately refer to those we serve as Ballers, not patients, and we’re really creating a ‘Ballerhood’ for so many young and brave warriors across the country!
What is your favorite memory from a Baller Bash event?
Our Baller Ceremonies are epic. At each event, Ballers take a seat on the throne and are roasted by me (it’s no holds barred) to celebrate their journey. My favorite memory is the look on each Baller’s face when we announce their gift. Funds raised make a handful of local Ballers’ dreams come true. Some of the gifts have included assistance with education costs, cars, travel experiences, a day with Guy Fieri, an evening with Michael Bublé, a day at Dancing With the Stars, she sheds, man caves, swimming pools and even pianos.
How has the foundation overcome pandemic restraints?
Since we are not able to host our fundraising events, we recently hosted our first-ever virtual 5K, where we had over 500 participants from over 33 states. We raised well over $30,000.
Anything special coming up?
During the holidays, donations go toward gift, gas and dining cards; gift baskets; games; and more provided to Ballers and their families located at Banner Cardons, Banner Thunderbird and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve heard recently?
Honestly, I can’t pinpoint just one because there have been so many. But I will say this, the common theme among all Ballers is their unwavering strength, courage and perseverance, and that for sure is inspiring enough.