Marc Scott says he’s just a regular Joe trying to get by in life. In many ways, he is — he spends time keeping up with his wife and two sons, plays golf (although not as much as he’d like), and participates in senior softball. But the 2017 Louis E. Waller Humanitarian Award recipient, who established the Olivia Scott Foundation (OSF) to honor the memory of his late daughter, is strong, determined, compassionate, and anything but ordinary.
In 2009, Scott’s only daughter fell victim to cancer following her junior year of high school. His friend Margie Six, who nominated him for the award, wrote, “Marc, with the support of his wife, family and friends, has channeled his grief into a wonderful organization that honors the memory of a very special young lady.”
Spending time with Olivia at the hospital during her illness gave Scott ample opportunity to think about the great generosity exhibited by his family, coworkers, friends, and the community in that difficult and heartbreaking period. He noted that from coworkers who held fundraisers; to Penguins players Sidney Crosby and Max Talbot, who personally made calls to Olivia; to everyone in between, “They all gave so much, so graciously, and without expectations, and I wondered how you can ever pay something like that forward?”
The answer, he decided, was to start the foundation. Initially, Scott thought he could, perhaps, raise a few thousand dollars to help others in need by selling Sarris candy bars and Four Star coupons. Eight years and innumerable events and activities later, the foundation has expanded far beyond his initial expectations. Last year, OSF raised and donated more than $50,000, staying true to its mission of providing compassionate assistance to youth in life-threatening or changing situations, offering educational assistance, and helping organizations that promote sportsmanship.
“These three different areas reflect Olivia herself,” Scott says, explaining that she once spent money she had earned herself on gifts for an Angel Tree child, and specifically one she thought no one else would choose; was a conscientious student; and lettered in track and volleyball.
And so, under Scott’s leadership and with his personal participation, the foundation honors Olivia in numerous ways: giving young patients at Children’s Hospital toys and gifts during the holiday season; delivering a Christmas lunch to the nurses and staff on the cancer floor at the hospital; and holding a gently-used prom dress sale for young women in need who otherwise might not have the opportunity to attend this important high school event. Other foundation activities include purchasing a side-car to enable a physically disabled child “who has the biggest smile on his face” to ride a bicycle with his father, helping families who have suffered through house fires, and establishing permanent scholarships for high school students pursuing higher education.
While the foundation’s focus is mainly the tri-state area, Scott emphasizes, “Suffering doesn’t start or end with a geographical border. We’ve helped those as far west as Iowa and as far south as southern Florida.”
Looking ahead, he hopes to “continue to expand and improve this small, grassroots foundation. Competition for donations is very strong.” Improving the foundation will help to solicit additional funds and ultimately improve OSF’s outreach to those who need assistance.
As he is honored for his tireless efforts to help others through humanitarian deeds, Scott is quick to point out that he couldn’t do it alone. He thanks his wife, Anne, and sons, Jonathan and Patrick, who are extremely generous about all the time he shares with the foundation and who help to make it possible; the 20-member foundation board, all volunteers, who help to expand the organization and its outreach; and the community, including numerous vendors and businesses who step up to donate their time, services, and resources for events and activities.
“The name on the certificate might say ‘Marc Scott,’” maintains this “ordinary Joe” who has accomplished so much, “but the award is not all just me. I am humbled to be included with past winners of this award. Thank you to everyone.”
By Linda Alkire