Giving Back – One Step at a Time

James Tasca doesn’t run for himself.

He runs for research. He runs for awareness. He runs for hope.

Tasca is a High Point University senior and Newport, Rhode Island native. He discovered a passion for running while studying abroad in Australia during his junior year, and he soon started training for the Taniwha marathon in Tokoroa, New Zealand.

Since taking those first steps, he has completed a long, rewarding journey of giving back to others both near and far.

Running for research

Last fall, Tasca and a friend competed in a Half Iron Man competition – a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run – in Austin, Texas. Throughout the course of their training, the duo decided they wanted to give a greater meaning to the challenge: to raise money for childhood cancer research through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Tasca is a cousin of Alex Scott, the inspiration behind Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer (ALSF). In 1997, Scott was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, shortly before her first birthday. She set up a lemonade stand when she was four years old to raise money to help doctors find a cure. Since then, ALSF has raised more than $100 million towards finding a cure for the disease that took her life.

After all was said and done, Tasca and his friend raised more than $11,000 for ALSF – including a $7,000 donation from HPU’s Student Government Association. Tasca is also working with Alpha Phi Omega, HPU’s service fraternity, to make ALSF the chapter’s national philanthropy so that support for the organization can continue after he graduates.

“After I raised all that money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, I knew I couldn’t just stop there,” he says. “There had to be something else – something more – that I could do.”

HPU senior James Tasca (left) and friend Fergus O'Farrell at the New Orleans marathon

HPU senior James Tasca (left) and friend Fergus O’Farrell at the New Orleans marathon

Running for hope

Tasca then competed in a marathon in New Orleans on Jan. 25 – but this time, he was running for Coalition for Hope International (CHI) to benefit Rwandan youth.

Tasca learned about CHI through a friend who spent nearly half a year overseas volunteering for the organization in Rwanda. He learned about the organization’s mission to build new opportunities for youth in Rwanda to pursue their artistic, educational and vocational dreams. He learned how GMC Pro – the CHI-sponsored music studio and community center run by youth in Kigali, Rwanda – was giving kids a chance to pursue their creative passions. And he learned just how far a small donation can go to help the center – $25 covers a month’s electricity bill; $50 covers the studio manager’s salary; $100 covers a month’s rent.

“These kids at CHI have amazing potential and any support we can help bring them is a huge reward,” says Tasca.

Running for something more

But why does he do it?

“Exercise is important to me, but I felt selfish just running for myself,” says Tasca. “As part of the High Point University family, I see every day how our campus is filled with such generous people. This is a great opportunity for students to jump onto something that can really change lives.”

At HPU, Tasca is a business administration major and member of the Selling Club. Thanks to one of the Selling Club competitions he attended last fall, Tasca already has a sales job lined up with NetSuite, a business software company in Denver, after he graduates in May.

“Sales is all about empathizing with people and caring about what someone else thinks. You have to see through the eyes of the other person – see their train of thought – and then find a way that you can help them,” says Tasca. “It’s the same case for raising awareness for causes like Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Coalition for Hope. You have to put yourself in their shoes. Then, it’s easy to see just how much your support can help.”

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