David Caravella, Operations Coordinator for the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, has always been an avid outdoorsman. But it was through his personal battle with cancer that he found a new passion that pairs his love of the outdoors with his desire to help others cope with cancer recovery. In 2008, David attended a Reel Recovery Retreat. Combining expert fly-fishing instruction with directed “courageous conversations”, the program provides men with cancer a unique opportunity to share their stories, learn a new skill, form friendships and gain renewed hope, as they confront the challenges of cancer.
Realizing the vital role the program played in his own recovery, David soon began volunteering, and in 2010 was asked to serve as Reel Recovery's first Missouri Coordinator. As a volunteer, he organizes the Missouri program and raises the $15,000 to $20,000 needed each year to fund the all-expense paid 3-day fly-fishing retreat. To help raise these funds, he created a sporting clay-shoot fundraiser called Clays for Cancer. Now in its 5th year, this event has grown from 32 participants to as many as 140, to ensure that no one who currently has cancer or is in remission is denied the opportunity to attend the retreat.
In addition, Dave volunteers his time to assist the fundraising efforts for two other fly fishing retreats - Reeling and Healing designed for women dealing with cancer and Project Healing Waters, which does the same for disabled veterans. David says, “I have a close connection to all three projects, as I and several women in my family have all battled cancer, and I am a disabled veteran as well.”
For these reasons we are proud to recognize David Caravella is a recipient of the 2015 Staff Excellence in Community Service Award.