Helping others, which started as a pastime for Jim Foliano, has not only become his passion, but it has led to the start of a nonprofit called Ticket To Hope.
“Ticket To Hope is more of a hobby I started earlier this year. Every year, I’ve tried to do something out of the norm to help raise money for a charity. I’ve boxed in an amateur fight one time, and I rode my motorcycle 1,500 miles in 24 hours or less, another time, so I’ve always done these oddball things to help others, but always, in the back of my mind for the past three or four years, I’ve wanted to start something of my own,” said Foliano, founder and executive director of Ticket to Hope.
As to the “Why?” of Ticket To Hope, he said he was inspired by his own experiences as a kid, growing up.
“When I was younger, about fourth grade, we were a middle-class family. My mom worked, my dad worked, and we were living the American dream. I remember coming home from school on the school bus one day. There was an ambulance in my driveway, and there were people praying in a circle in my front yard, and they were bringing my mom out on a stretcher.
“She came down with an illness, or a disease, Crohn’s Disease, that she battled for the next 15 years,” Foliano said.
He said, “I got to live on both sides of the struggle line, if you will, where one day, we could have almost anything that we asked for, whether it’s a Nintendo, or a Starter jacket, or all of the things that kids think that they have to have. The next day, my sisters and I are just being shuffled around from place to place.
“Our family was just completely broken up,” he said. “My dad worked, all day, 365 days a year, and my mom’s in the hospital. We watched her battle mental health, surgeries and pain pills, so it was a struggle. One of the things that really stood out to me to this day is my dad would come home from work and he would have tickets that they would give to him to the Red’s game. It would happen once, maybe twice a year,” Foliano said.
When Foliano saw the tickets sitting under the change dish on his dad’s dresser, he said his mind would go to another place, where “we’re just going to experience normalcy.”
“I get to go somewhere with my dad, and I don’t have to be in a hospital, or I don’t have to watch my mom be sick on a couch, and it’s like, you just get away from life for a little bit,” he said.
As a result of those experiences, Jim’s passion for helping others has continued to grow. Last December, his dream of giving back came true when he applied for a lottery to purchase tickets and he won. Upon winning, he was able to purchase four tickets to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer game in Columbus.
He was unable to go to the game that day, which he now says was “destiny.”
After calling the local Ronald McDonald House, he asked if there was anyone staying there that could use the tickets, and he was able to send a family of three and another gentleman to the game. But what was even more surprising was the response he received. He said it was “mind-blowing.”
That’s when he started Ticket To Hope, which benefits people in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
After he was quickly approved to start a nonprofit, his company was up and running by the first of March.
Ticket To Hope creates an inclusive life-changing experience for those in the community. These experiences include event tickets, and often there’s a need for transportation.
“So far, in 2022, we have been able to donate over 1,200 tickets to events, and that’s sporting events, museums, concerts, the zoo, amusement parks, and of those 1,200, 200 of those tickets have been with transportation included, which has been a huge hurdle over this past year,” said Foliano, who lives in Hamilton.
He said a lot of organizations he speaks with on a daily basis want to receive tickets from Ticket To Hope, but they don’t have a means of getting their community members to and from an event. A lot of them don’t have cars, they come from homeless shelters, or foster families, and they don’t have transportation.
“So that’s a big goal I’m setting for Ticket To Hope in 2023 is to create 40 percent of the ticket donations to include transportation,” said Foliano.
To find out more about Ticket To Hope, to request tickets, or to donate, visit https://tickettohope.com.
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