Charitable giving to a cause close to home

March 23, 2022 Tarah Wolking
One family’s story about investing in a healthier future for others.

In honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing a personal story from one of our client families, Alex and Melissa “Isse”. Sadly, Isse passed away in December 2019 due to colon cancer. But thanks to choices made by Alex and Isse, her legacy lives on and continues to positively impact colon cancer prevention efforts. Here is Alex and Isse’s story.

Giving back to others was always an important value for Alex and Isse, and a trait they wanted to make sure was instilled in their three children as well.

This became an even higher priority for the family in November 2017 when they received the terrible news that would change their lives forever: Isse had stage 4 colon cancer.

Our Family’s Top Priority

Hear why this family made colon cancer awareness and charitable giving a top priority for their family.

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But Isse, being such an incredibly compassionate person, began to focus her energy on finding ways to prevent this diagnosis from happening to as many people as possible.

“When Isse was diagnosed, it was really important to us, after learning all the statistics and understanding how deadly it is, yet how preventable it is, to really bring awareness around colon cancer,” shared Alex.

Taking action to help others

Isse wanted to put an end to colon cancer and made it her mission to create awareness for young people, so they would never have to go through what she and her family were facing.

Along with friends and family, Alex and Isse started a widespread effort to broaden their reach and encourage others to take preventative measures. To raise as much awareness as possible, the couple partnered with the Colon Cancer Coalition to start a race in Nashville, TN where they resided.

Alex and Isse also opened a donor-advised fund account and established a long-term giving strategy for their family through Schwab Charitable. Alex shared how important it was for he and Isse to be more intentional with their giving, involve their children and be able choose how to make an impact.

“It helped us really focus our philanthropic giving, be more dedicated in terms of the timing with which we gave, and that in the organizations with which we gave,” explained Alex. “Whether we're here, or whether something happens to us, we had the money in the account that is designated for philanthropic needs.”

Remembering Isse

In a guest column in The Tennessean, Alex wrote, “These days, when I am sad and lonely, I try to think about how blessed I am. Blessed by the spirit she was able to instill in me. Blessed by our three amazing children. Blessed to have witnessed Isse live life with such grace and selflessness in the face of the unthinkable. And finally, blessed to have the strength and courage to carry on her mission—to spread awareness about colon cancer so no one else will have to suffer her consequences. Our consequences.”