Member Spotlight: Baller Dream Foundation
Integral to The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale’s mission is telling the stories behind the small businesses Scouted in each Volume. The story begins in print and continues online, after all. As you peruse Volume 2, we are thrilled to continue our story-telling mission with Member Spotlights.
Photography by Carl Schultz
At 29 years old, Frank DeBlasi received a cancer diagnosis that would change his life. Surrounded by friends and family, he was fortunate to have incredible support and resources. Yet, he could not ignore the stark contrast between his experience and that of his fellow patients. And so, DeBlasi promised himself that, if he were to recover, he would build a foundation for young people battling cancer. The Baller Dream Foundation is that promise kept.
The Baller Dream Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves the critical need for emotional and daily living support of young – to use the foundation’s language – ‘Ballers.’ For those ufamiliar, “baller” is a pop-culture term used to suggest one is doing well, feeling well, and in control. Unlike other NPOs with a hard-stop at age 18, The Baller Dream Foundation serves young cancer warriors ages birth through 29, providing Ballers with spirit-lifting support from diagnosis to treatment, to remission and beyond.
As The Baller Dream Foundation’s signature event approaches, we chatted with DeBlasi about how the promise to himself developed and the essential work the foundation accomplishes today.
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: We know that The Baller Dream Foundation was born from a promise you made to yourself during your own cancer treatment. Can you speak more to this origin story?
Frank DeBlasi: I was 29 years old, diagnosed in a NYC hospital, and incredibly lucky to have such support from my family, friends, coworkers, as well as access to resources. However, many children and young adults around me were not as lucky. Seeing this weighed heavy on my heart, so I said to myself, “Frank, if you get through this, you HAVE to do something for those that are not as fortunate.” Fortunately, I was able to keep that promise.
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: How did your experience inform The Baller Dream Foundation?
Frank DeBlasi: It informs everything from our language to our mission.
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: Before diving into the mission, let’s chat about your signature language. Why the term ‘Baller?’
Frank DeBlasi: The term references a way of life, one that stands out, comes with an innocent swagger, and has positive direction. We believe our Ballers deserve to feel special during and after the battle of their life, and that’s what we do most for them. Plus, no one wants to be called a patient, right?
Image from @ballerdreamfoundation
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: Can you elaborate on your mission?
Frank DeBlasi: The Baller Dream Foundation provides major gifts and experiences to children and young adults battling cancer in an effort to meet a critical need for emotional and daily living support.
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: How exactly does The Baller Dream Foundation achieve this mission?
Frank DeBlasi: We work closely with hospitals nationwide to provide in-hospital, volunteer-led activities. Most notably, however, we provide major gifts and experiences to children and young adults battling cancer. At a local level, PHX Children’s Hospital and Banner Children’s Hospitals refer us to the Ballers, and then we take it from there!
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: Beyond the long-term relationships that The Baller Dream Foundation creates with recipients, what sets the foundation apart from other non-profits?
Frank DeBlasi: Baller Dream is unique in so many ways! For one, we impact Ballers up to the age of 29, the age I was diagnosed. Most NPOs have a hard stop at 18. And two, we develop such deep relationships with our Ballers. We always tell them, “from diagnosis to treatment, to remission and beyond, Baller Dream will always be there for you.”
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: Is there a particular Baller dream or story you cherish?
Frank DeBlasi: I cherish every opportunity to work with and support our Ballers. But one that always comes to mind is when we coordinated the purchase of a vehicle for a single mother whose car had just broken down. She couldn’t get to her treatments or her son’s medical appointments. I will never forget the sheer emotion of that surprise reveal. I get goosebumps every time thinking about it.
Photography courtesy of Carl Schultz
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: As a Scottsdale-based non-profit, you work closely with PHX Children’s Hospital and Banner Children’s Hospitals. But The Baller Dream Foundation also serves Ballers nation-wide. How do you cultivate those community connections?
Frank DeBlasi: To maximize the difference we can make, we collaborate with Baller Buddies, local foundations and organizations also dedicated to helping children with cancer. We host activities in the children’s hospitals and often invite volunteers to join – in addition to hosting memorable events to share our mission and celebrate the local Ballers. We are rapidly growing in each of our markets and Baller Dream is very visible in the communities we serve. We’re so grateful to the many ambassadors and champions of our mission for their incredible work spreading our unique story and impact.
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: How does our community support The Baller Dream Foundation?
Frank DeBlasi: We receive tremendous support we from our dear friends/owners at the Noble Agency, Drewett Works, BISON Ventures, Brimley Development, Right Toyota, Sorso Wine Room, Schmooze, Mountain Shadows Resort, Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids, Bedbrock Developers, and many more. And we are so grateful to these local businesses for their support!
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: Behind incredible foundations like Baller Dream is an equally incredible team. And we know you just made an exciting addition to yours. Can you tell us more?
Frank DeBlasi: We have a very high-energy team with endless motors and hearts – exactly what you need to take care of so many Ballers. And we have big goals and a desire to deepen our impact in current and new markets. Having a top-notch CEO to drive our mission, gift more Ballers, lead our team, and build upon our exciting base of donors is a must. Our new CEO, Jennifer Van Moorlehem, checks all the boxes. She is a total game-changer for us. I am truly blessed to have such stars on our team.
Photography courtesy of Carl Schultz
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: The annual Dinner of Dreams approaching! And we’re so looking forward to joining you at the iconic Arizona Biltmore on Friday, November 18th. What can guests expect?
Frank DeBlasi: We will induct two of our newest Arizona Ballers from PHX Children’s, Gabbi and Alexis. Guests will be moved by these ladies’ experiences and will enjoy participating in their special evening, which will include a gift reveal and a bit of playful ‘roasting’ courtesy of yours truly.
Photo of Gabbi and Frank DeBlasi.
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: What dreams will you be fulfilling?
Frank DeBlasi: I don’t want to ruin the surprise! But I will say this: everything we do for our Ballers is first class, and no corners are ever cut for them.
The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale: How can those unable to attend support The Baller Dream Foundation’s mission?
Frank DeBlasi: For those that cannot attend, visiting our website and learning more about our mission is always a great first step. Our fans love to share our story with their family, friends, and colleagues. Following us on Instagram and Facebook is helpful too, as both are updated frequently with fresh news and Baller happenings! We also accept donations, which directly impact our Ballers and their families. For example, $50 provides activities for two hours of in-hospital distraction led by our team, $100 buys a gas card to defray the cost of repeated hospital visits, and $250 helps fill a Baller Bag with gifts supporting families confronted by a cancer diagnosis. To learn how you can gift a Baller directly head to our website, www.ballerdream.org.
Photography by Carl Shultz
The Baller Dream Foundation’s 3rd Annual Dinner of Dreams will take place on Friday, November 18th at the Arizona Biltmore. Funds raised during the Dinner of Dreams allow Baller Dream Foundation to build relationships, host in-hospital activities, and make dreams come true. Learn more and purchase tickets to the Dinner here. Don’t forget to tell them Scout sent you!