January Volunteer of the Month
Diana Kirk’s life had been filled with joy. The youngest of five, she could learn the ropes from her older siblings Tim, Ryan, Joey, and Jenny. Her mom Maryanne was the ultimate loving, caring, and understanding mother. But it was her dad Roger who stole her heart. And when he was diagnosed with ALS, she followed her heart. When you read her own words here it is readily apparent why Diana is so deserving of the Chapter’s Volunteer of the Month honor.
After my dad was diagnosed, there was no hesitation that our family was going to fight alongside him. So that meant it was time to volunteer with The ALS Association. We all knew right there that our volunteer work wasn’t going to save our father, but it was going to help others not feel the devastation we were feeling at the time of his diagnosis. Personally, I fundraise for the young kid who must hear their parent has an incurable disease. I was a 21-year-old junior at the University of Scranton when my dad was diagnosed. Being away at college, not with my family when we heard the news, is something that rocks your world. And when your world has been rocked, you want to do anything you can to rid the world of the disease.
I am lucky enough to have the greatest mom who took care of my dad until the very end, and now continues to take care of all of us today. My oldest brother Tim, and his wife Kayla, my brother Ryan, and his wife Kaitlyn, my brother Joey, my sister Jenny, and her husband Sean. And of course, I have so much love for all my nieces and nephews!
Our family is lucky enough to have had support from so many family members like my Dad’s siblings and in-laws, Janice, Barbara, Tom, Ed, Jerry, and Kelly. And too many others to name! Everyone had a role in caring for dad.
The ALS Association has been with us from the start. The ALS Clinic put my mom and dad in touch with The Greater Philadelphia Chapter when my dad was first diagnosed in 2013. We were able to get the necessary supplies and resources we needed through the Chapter. Their Loaner Closet supplied us with a walker and wheelchair for my dad when he needed it. They helped us get a handicapped-accessible van. If we were unsure what to do as the disease progressed, The ALS Association was the first step. A special shout out to Board Chair Ellyn Phillips who came to us as a resource, but now has become a close friend. My mom and Ellyn even went on a trip together to New Orleans!
Team Kirkin’ It enjoyed a huge presence at the Philadelphia Walk to Defeat ALS at Citizens Bank Park in 2019.
Our family immediately started participating in the Walk to Defeat ALS. 2020 was our 8th year participating, and I have been serving as team captain for the last several years. Our team, Team Kirkin’ It, has been able to raise over $220,000 for ALS research and care services and has been the “top fundraising team” for three years. It truly is a group effort and my family and I fundraise together to give the biggest impact we can (thank you Facebook fundraisers!) It is my favorite day — giving back to such a good cause, hearing stories of my dad from his close friends and family, and seeing other families rally behind the ones they love. (This year, during the hardest fundraising year our Chapter has ever endured due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Diana was the top fundraiser of the entire Chapter’s SEVEN Walk to Defeat ALS events.)
Another big part of The ALS Association that is close to my heart is the Roger Kirk Golf Outing Hosted by Greg Gross. To me, this golf outing is not only a day to honor my dad, coincidentally at the Old York Road Country Club where he belonged, but also a beautiful day that shows support from friends and loved ones doing all they can to raise money for The ALS Association. I have had the honor of giving a speech at two of the dinners to remind the attendees why their participation is so meaningful to so many ALS patients and families. Since 2013, this event has raised over $420,000. My mom puts her heart and soul into this outing, along with my siblings and my dad’s siblings, as well as friends on the Old York Road board. This outing is a group effort every year, especially this year, as it was the only in-person Chapter event in 2020.
Last year, I joined CNI Sales as their Logistics & Marketing Manager. CNI is the IT company my dad started in 1994 when I was only 2 years old. I watched him run this business for almost 20 years, always in awe of what the company stood for, and most importantly, the relationships he built from it. CNI is an IT value-added reseller that focuses on building relationships with enterprises to get the best network and security. I am honored to now be in the CNI family and am lucky enough to work alongside my mom Maryanne, my brother Tim, and my uncle Tom.
There is so much to miss about my dad. I miss his stories, his laugh, and the way he took over a room. I miss car rides with him listening to his music. He passed away the year after I graduated from college. His professional life was such a big part of him, and it was something I always admired. So, when I entered the real world, I wanted to show him that I had his work ethic too. He did not get to see me in the working world too long, and I miss that I never got the opportunity to have him help me navigate this part of my life. Now that I am at his company, I think of him often and am reminded of him by so many colleagues and friends. I am lucky to have my mom routing me on in everything I do, and always remembering my dad’s memory while she does that.
Please watch this retrospective video Diana created for the 2020 virtual Philadelphia Walk to Defeat ALS. Members of Team Kirkin’ It walked in New Jersey, South Carolina, Canada, and England! Diana Kirk gives back every day. She found her role as an extraordinary Chapter volunteer. It was not intentional. But it was certainly the right one. Thank you, Diana!