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Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 7:33 am

Don Carroll leaves a legacy of generosity

post by Bonnie Marrocco in batavia, Don Carroll, Oakfield, philanthropist

Batavia resident Donald R. Carroll dedicated himself to his community and spent most of his life helping youth in Genesee County: He lived by his motto, “Pay it forward.” He is well known in Western New York for his charity work, which has raised thousands of dollars for many young residents of Genesee County over the last 30-plus years.

Carroll was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last March and succumbed to the disease Wednesday morning. He was 58.

A former employee at Angelica Healthcare, he stopped working after his diagnosis, but he continued to devote his life to raising money to buy toys for his yearly Christmastime party for children in need.

“Don was a very humble man who truly believed in paying it forward,” said Jerry Foster, his sixth-grade teacher, lifelong friend and helper with Don's various charity efforts, including the annual 5K run and Toys for Kids.

“His personal life experience and the lessons he learned from his aunt who raised him, made him the man we all knew. Right up to the end he was concerned about missing this year's Toys for Kids toy distribution party. It was always an emotional time for him, a person who definitely knew the meaning of the words poverty, compassion and caring.”

Carroll graduated from Oakfield-Alabama Central School in 1974. Instead of following the trend of going off to college after getting his diploma, Carroll decided to join the workforce and focus on his passion for helping less fortunate children.

He was born in Kansas City, Kan., but he and one of his sisters ended up being raised by an aunt in Oakfield after losing both parents at an early age.

“I lost my parents when I was 5 and people were very generous to me and my sister at Christmastime. That’s something I never forgot and that’s why I do it,” Carroll said. “I strongly believe all of us become who we are because of life experiences and the way we react to those experiences. We can pick up the ball and run with it, or we can fumble our way through life. I chose to run.”

For his first organized project, he partnered with the Genesee/Wyoming YMCA to raise money to send kids to camp. The fundraiser was successful for 23 years.

Shortly after the camp fundraiser, Carroll switched his focus to helping students with college expenses. He started a 5k and 10k run in Batavia to support the Genesee Community College Foundation.

Carroll collaborated with the YMCA over the years on many different occasions; most recently they combined efforts for Don’s Secret Santa fundraiser to give gifts to children at Christmastime.

Carroll wanted to ensure that underprivileged children would not be disappointed on Christmas morning. This project has recently been expanded to provide grade-school kids with supplies for school and winter coats.

Despite preferring to achieve results rather than garner recognition, Carroll received numerous awards and certificates for his humanitarian efforts. In 1997 Carroll was named Geneseean of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce and he was inducted into the Oakfield-Alabama Central School Hall of Fame in 2009.

MVP Health Care awarded Carroll the Ultimate Game Changer in 2012. The contest was looking for people who make a significant difference in their communities by making them better, healthier places to live.

“All of the game changer finalists are examples of the kinds of everyday heroes MVP wanted to celebrate,” said Denise Gonick, MVP’s president of Operations. “Don’s story, especially, is wonderfully inspiring. Despite all the hardship in his life and, now, his illness, Don has never stopped giving back and paying it forward. It’s a reminder that wherever you are, whoever you are, you can make a difference.”

Foster now serves as a member of the fund committee, which has a mission to carry out Carroll’s last wish.

“His main thing when I talked to him was, he wanted to make sure the kids’ party goes off in December,” Foster said. “I promised him it would.”

The committee will discuss how to proceed with fundraisers, including the Donald R. Carroll 5K that has been part of Summer in the City each year.

Carroll didn’t want to be the center of attention, so he requested that there be no calling hours and no memorial service, Foster said.

“A Celebration of Don’s Life” will be held instead at 7 p.m. Monday at Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St.

He is to be cremated and his ashes spread on his Aunt Ruth Anderson’s grave at Hillside Cemetery in East Pembroke.

Memorials may be made to the Donald R. Carroll Toys for Kids Fund, care of Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St., Batavia, NY 14020.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 9:20 am

Don Carroll wins MVP Health Care 'Game Changer' award

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Don Carroll

Press release:

As part of MVP Health Care’s fall brand campaign, MVP asked the community “Who Inspires You?” and received more than 150 nominations and 40,000 votes in its quest to find the Ultimate Game Changer.

The contest — which was looking for people who make a significant difference in their communities by making them better, healthier places to live — concluded with an event on Saturday, Nov. 10, honoring the top 10 finalists and naming the Ultimate Game Changer.

Donald Carroll, of Batavia, NY, is the grand prize winner in the Ultimate Game Changer contest. Don, who is battling inoperable cancer of the stomach and esophagus, was not able to travel to Clifton Park for the event, but was there in spirit.

Don, who was orphaned at the age of 5, said that the kindness of family, friends and strangers deeply moved him as a child and young adult. It motivated him to “pay it forward” by sending local kids to summer camp, raising money to buy underprivileged kids toys and clothing at Christmas and funding college scholarships at Genesee Community College.

“I strongly believe all of us become who we are because of life experiences and the way we react to those experiences,” Don said in a statement read by a friend at the event. “We can pick up the ball and run with it, or we can fumble our way through life. I chose to run.”

Don and his former sixth-grade teacher, Jerry Foster, who nominated him, have each won $1,000. Jerry plans to donate his prize money to the cancer support fund established to help Don with his medical and other financial obligations.

“I nominated Don because I’ve had the opportunity to see him grow from a quiet, shy sixth-grader to a humble, compassionate man,” said Jerry, who taught Don at Oakfield-Alabama Central School in Oakfield, NY. “I know of no one who believes more in ‘paying it forward’ than Don. I have always believed in Santa. His nickname is Don.”

“All of the game changer finalists are examples of the kinds of everyday heroes MVP wanted to celebrate,” said Denise Gonick, MVP’s president of Operations. “Don’s story, especially, is wonderfully inspiring. Despite all the hardship in his life and, now, his illness, Don has never stopped giving back and paying it forward. It’s a reminder that wherever you are, whoever you are, you can make a difference.”

The Ultimate Game Changer Contest invited kids age 13 and older and adults in New York and Vermont to nominate someone they felt is making a significant contribution to their local community.

Friday, November 2, 2012 at 11:20 am

Clor's hosting BBQ to benefit Don Carroll and Relay for Life

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Don Carroll

Clor's will host a benefit Sunday for to assist Don Carroll in his cancer fight and for Team Kay's Angels of Relay for Life.

Half-chicken dinners with two sides will be available. The pre-sale price is $8.50, and $9 on Saturday.

Visitors are also encouraged to bring toys to donate to Carroll's "Toys for Kids."

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand for pictures with children.

A DJ will spin music all day. There will also be a 50/50 raffle and a chance auction.

Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 11:13 am

Don Carroll remains hospitalized following surgery

post by Howard Owens in Don Carroll

We received this statement from Jerry Foster regarding Don Carroll's health:

Donald R. Carroll of Batavia is currently in Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester recuperating from abdominal surgery for cancer of his esophagus and stomach. The surgery that took place on Sept. 12th was cancelled once his surgical team determined his cancer had spread to the point where surgery would not be beneficial.

Don is well known in Western New York for his charity work, which has raised thousands of dollars for many young residents of Genesee County over the last 30 plus years. Just three weeks ago Don ran a 5K Run/Fun Walk as part of Summer in the City to raise money for his annual Toys for Kids program.

Don has received numerous awards for his work in the community and in 2009 was inducted into the Oakfield-Alabama Alumni Hall of Fame.

Two weeks ago a fund raiser organized by several Batavia business people was held to assist Don with his medical bills and living expenses.  Donations may still be dropped off at T-Shirts Etc., Main Office of Birchwood Village, or mailed to Jerry Foster, 20 River St., Batavia, NY 14020. Checks should be made out to Donald R. Carroll.

Readers may follow Don’s progress by visiting: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/donaldrcarroll/journal

Don isn’t going to let this setback keep him down. He has a very positive attitude and is determine to beat his cancer which was first diagnosed this past April.

Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Downtown 5K Run/Fun Walk to benefit Toys for Kids is Saturday

Ready, set, go! Join the 5K Run/Fun Walk starting at 6:15 Saturday afternoon to benefit Donald R. Carroll's Toys for Kids program. The 5K is in conjunction with historic Downtown's Summer in the City.

All proceeds help make Christmas wishes come true for disadvantaged children in our community.

Check out the Web site at DonCarrollrace.com to register online. The first 75 entries get a T-shirt.

Preregistration is $20. High school students pay $10 (no shirt giveaway). On race day, registration is $25 and you can register from 3 to 6 p.m. at Bank and Main streets near the Senior Center.

The course is certified to be accurate by USA Track & Field ( #NY06914KL). The Start Line (6:15 p.m. SHARP) is Main and Bank by the Senior Center. The Finish Line is there also.

Trophies will be awarded to the best overall male and female; and first-, second- and third-place trophies by age category. There will be no duplicate winners.

Afterward, there will be a 31st Anniversary Party Extravaganza, free for all participants with race numbers, and guests are welcome for a $5 donation. The party will feature music and dancing, chicken BBQ, turkey dogs, yogurt, freshly sliced fruit, ice cold water, and a beer coupon.

Sponsors of the event are:

  • T-Shirts, Etc.
  • Southside Deli
  • That Taco Place
  • Wortzman Furniture
  • Jerry Arena's Pizzeria
  • Center Street Smoke House
  • Clor's Meat Market
  • Amputee Treatment Center
  • Max Pies Furniture
  • Grace Baptist Church
  • The Insurance Center
  • Coffee Culture
  • The Enchanted Florist
  • Downtown Batavia Business District
  • Lays Potato Chips
  • The Batavian
Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Don Carroll grateful for community support

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Don Carroll

At times this afternoon, Don Carroll was overcome with emotion as people showed up for a charity event in Jackson Square called DC in the Square.

The event is aimed at raising funds to help Carroll, who has cancer, pay his medical bills.

Throughout his life, Carroll has given all he has to the community, especially children who don't grow up with financial advantages. Most recently, Carroll has sponsored Toys for Kids, an annual event to provide gifts for children.

DC in the Square was organized, with the help of many volunteers, by Beth Kemp.

Beth's husband, Brian, said he benefited from Carroll's charitable work because Carroll's annual 5K run years ago paid for Brian to go to summer camp.

Beth said, "He does so much for the community and never asks for anything back," adding, "I just think he's a great guy. He sets the example for the kind of person I want to be, always giving, never expecting anything back."

Carroll, pictured above with his sister, Diane, and friend, Harriett Everett, said all he ever wanted to do was make kids happy and he was so grateful for the community support during his battle with cancer.

"It just means so much," Carroll said. "There are some things that happen that I forget sometimes, but this I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Today's event goes until 4 p.m.

Friday, July 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

Fundraiser in Jackson Square will benefit Don Carroll

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Don Carroll, fundraiser, Jackson Square, live music

T-Shirts, Etc. and the Batavia Business Improvement District (or "the BID") will present "DC in the Square," a benefit for local philanthropist Don Carroll, on Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. It will be downtown at Jackson Square.

Carroll, who is well-known locally for raising thousands of dollars on behalf of underprivileged youth, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in April.

Brian and Beth Kemp of T-Shirts, Etc. have known Carroll for several years and helped him every year with Toys for Kids, an annual toy drive Carroll founded to purchase Christmas presents for children who might not otherwise receive them.

"When I found out about Don's cancer," Beth said, "I went to Brian and suggested we host a benefit. Because he has helped so many people, I thought it would be awesome for the community to be able to give back."

They approached the BID to ask if they could use Jackson Square as the venue. The BID went even further and agreed to sponsor the event.

"DC in the Square" will feature live performances by three bands: "Old Hippies," "Soul Craft" and "Savage Cabbage," plus a Chinese auction and a 50/50 raffle.

Items included in the auction and raffle will include all kinds of goodies donated by several local businesses, including:

  • Clothing apparel from Lamb Farms (Oakfield)
  • A goodie basket from Oliver's Candies
  • T-shirts and gift certificates from The Batavian

Coffee Culture Manager Brenda Richardson, who is also helping out with the event, said that M&T Bank has donated money, which they may use for a kids' basket or something similar.

Clor's Meat Market will be providing BBQ dinners for $9. People have their choice of chicken, rib or pulled pork dinners. Each dinner comes with a roll, butter, and two out of the following three sides:

  • Salt potato
  • Coleslaw
  • Macaroni salad

Tickets can be purchased at the Square on July 29 or in advance at the following Batavia locations:

  • T-Shirts Etc., 111 Main St.
  • Clor's Meat Market, 4169 W. Main St. Road
  • Coffee Culture, 6 Court St.

A minimum $2 donation is asked of everyone at the gate.

Jerry Foster, a former teacher and lifelong friend of Carroll's, provided an update on his condition.

"He's completed his third cycle of chemo," Foster said. "He is starting to be able to swallow a little bit, though not much. ... He will be going back to Strong Memorial Hospital to see if the tumor has shrunk enough that they can operate on it."

For more information about "DC in the Square," contact Brian and Beth Kemp at 345-1993 or email tshirtsetcsales@rochester.rr.com.

Picture courtesy of Brian and Beth Kemp.

Monday, July 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

'DC in the Square' to benefit Don Carroll

"DC in the Square" is scheduled for Sunday, July 29 in Batavia's Jackson Square from noon until 4 pm. It is a benefit for Don Carroll, who has spent most of his life raising money for kids in need in Genesee County and is now battling esophageal cancer.

The event will include live performances by "Old Hippies," "Soul Craft" and "Savage Cabbage" as well as a Chinese auction and 50/50 raffle. Everyone is asked to contribute a minimum $2 donation at the gate.

Presale BBQ tickets can be purchased at the following Batavia locations:

  • T-Shirts Etc., 111 Main St.
  • Clor's Meat Market, 4169 W. Main St. Road
  • Coffee Culture, 6 Court St.
Monday, July 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Don Carroll benefit in Jackson Square

"DC in the Square" is scheduled for Sunday, July 29 in Batavia's Jackson Square from noon until 4 pm. It is a benefit for Don Carroll, who has spent most of his life raising money for kids in need in Genesee County and is now battling esophageal cancer.

The event will include live performances by "Old Hippies," "Soul Craft" and "Savage Cabbage" as well as a Chinese auction and 50/50 raffle. Everyone is asked to contribute a minimum $2 donation at the gate.

Presale BBQ tickets can be purchased at the following Batavia locations:

  • T-Shirts Etc., 111 Main St.
  • Clor's Meat Market, 4169 W. Main St. Road
  • Coffee Culture, 6 Court St.

 

Event Date and Time

July 29, 2012 - 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

Don Carroll faces battle with cancer while continuing charitable work

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Don Carroll, Toys for Kids

One of Genesee County's most generous residents, a man who has helped numerous families in times of need, is facing a serious challenge of his own.

Don Carroll was diagnosed in April with cancer of the esophagus. He has undergone two radiation treatments, awaits a third, and is about to start chemotherapy.

"Don has supported so many people over the years," said Jerry Foster, his sixth-grade teacher, lifelong friend and helper with Don's various charity efforts, including the annual 5K run and Toys for Kids.

"He's raised thousands of dollars for college scholarships, camp scholarships, Toys for Kids. If everybody could keep him in their thoughts and prayers and do what they can. Don wouldn't ask for that. He wouldn't ask for anything for himself, but he's going to need help, especially when the medical bills start coming in."

There has hardly been a time in Carroll's life that he hasn't helped others. The 1974 graduate of Oakfield-Alabama High School was an orphan who found a home in Genesee County. Shortly after graduation, Carroll starting raising money, a project that continued for 23 years, to send kids to YMCA summer camp.

In the late 1990s, Carroll switched his focus to raising funds for college scholarships and organized annual 5K and 10K runs as fundraisers.

More recently, Carroll has headed up Toys for Kids, a secret-Santa program for the area's children who might not otherwise receive Christmas presents.

In 1997, Carroll was named Geneseean of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce and he was inducted into the O-A Hall of Fame three years ago.

Foster said Carroll remains in great spirits.

"He knows everything is going to work out," Foster said. "He knows he's going to be at the 5K race (this summer). He has a very positive attitude."

Carroll hasn't worked since April 19 and isn't expected to be back on his feet for several more weeks.

Even so, he's continuing to do what he can for Toys for Kids, sending out emails to sponsors and helping to organize run for this summer.

The office at Birchwood Village Apartments, 88 Dewey Ave., Batavia, is selling candy bars for $1.50 as a fundraiser for Carroll and a chicken BBQ is being planned, but no other fundraisers have been set yet, Foster said.

Donations for Carroll can be sent to Jerry Foster at 20 River St., Batavia, NY 14020.

People who would like to know more about Carroll's medical progress can sign up for Care Bridge. Foster asked that visitors sign the guestbook and leave messages, which Foster prints out and brings to Carroll.

"They mean a lot to him," he said.

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