Empowering a Community

CAMBRIA COUNTY—One Johnstown family is turning their personal loss into a movement to energize a younger generation with the creation of a scholarship fund at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies to honor their loved one and a walk/run to benefit that fund.

“My family and I founded the WILLStrong Foundation Fund in honor of our beloved husband and father, the late Wilfred P. Brandon Jr. Our vision — a portion of Will’s legacy — is a healthy and empowered community. Wilfred was a proponent of educational attainment, community development, and health, which is the basis of the WILLStrong Foundation’s mission,” said Charvonne Holliday, Brandon’s daughter.

Brandon died of cancer on May 16, 2015. He was known for running his daily 5-mile course through Kernville and Hornerstown to Ferndale and back. His family created a benefit and fund in his memory to give back to the community he loved.

Holliday added, “This event is to honor Wilfred’s legacy, and most importantly to empower our community.”

The WILLStrong Foundation Fund is holding its first annual walk/run, which will be held in partnership with the Greater Johnstown Community YMCA, on May 14, 2016. This event will support academic scholarships for youth in Greater Johnstown and programs at Windber Hospice, and will facilitate community development and health promotion activities in the region.

“We invite community members to participate in the walk/run, which will culminate in a finish line festival filled with family fun and health-centered activities. With the idea that this event will be annual, we hope to encourage improvements in physical fitness from year-to-year by dividing the route into five one-mile increments,” said Holliday. “Participants can walk or run as fast and as long as they would like, and we will encourage them to improve their performance over time, or to be ‘WILLStrong.’ The walk/run event and finish line festival will facilitate fellowship and bring positivity to our city.”

“The Brandon family has chosen to use our online donation platform, Classy.org, in order to process sign-ups and registration costs for the event,” said Katrina Perkosky, Development Associate. “With Classy, the Foundation can create a custom webpage specifically designed to meet your fund’s needs, whether you’re selling tickets to an event, conducting a capital campaign, or just fundraising. It’s similar in nature to Go Fund Me or other online crowdsourcing vehicles, but is far more cost effective, so more of your gifts go where they belong — into your fund so you can use that money to do good work in our community.”

The WILLStrong Foundation’s original goal was to raise $10,000 for the initial endowment. As of May 10, 2016, more than $11,000 has been raised.

For details on this weekend’s event click on WILLStrong.

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