Colon cancer killed Tim Patterson’s father, Mike, 15 years ago. Four months later, his 16-year-old sister, Lynne, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Rick Giovino, 23, has had three surgeries for testicular cancer since March 2011, when he was a junior at Assumption College in Worcester and a member of the golf team.
Patterson and Giovino, both Medford natives, on Friday will cohost a pre-Father’s Day charity golf tournament for the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, where Lynne Patterson, now 31 and an oncology nurse at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, was treated, and where doctors are monitoring Giovino.
“I wanted to do something to honor my dad’s passing and my sister’s recovery,” said Tim Patterson, now 25 and living in Salem. “A couple of friends knew Rick wanted to do something [for Dana Farber] so they got us together.”
The Mike Patterson Don’t Ever Lay Up Invitational will start at 8 a.m. at Mount Hood Golf Course in Melrose, where Giovino has worked part time for the last seven years in the pro shop. The goal is to raise $10,000 for cancer research.
A layup is a golf term for taking a safe shot, often to avoid hazards around a green. “Don’t Ever Lay Up” is Giovino’s personal motto, as it relates to golf and his battle with cancer.
“Ninety percent of cancer is mental toughness,” said Giovino, who had the phrase printed on rubber bracelets. “If I sat down and moped all day, it would make everything else worse. . . . You’ve got to go for the green.
“I’ve helped to run a lot of golf tournaments, so I knew this was something I could do, ” said Giovino, who was the captain at Malden Catholic High School and Assumption. “When I go to [Dana Farber], I am one of the healthiest people there. I wanted to do my share to support all the awesome work they do.”
Giovino, who also works in sales for Konica Minolta in Newton, is the only child of Dawn and Rick Giovino Sr. of Medford.
“It’s obviously shocking when your child is diagnosed with cancer,” said Rick Sr. “He’s had three surgeries. I’m proud of the way he’s handled it. We don’t know what lies ahead. . . . But thankfully, he has great doctors, whom he trusts a lot.”
The tournament is the first of two fund-raisers Patterson and Giovino plan to organize for the Jimmy Fund. They hope to raise another $10,000 from a minigolf tournament, to be held at a location and date yet to be determined.
Patterson last year ran a minigolf tournament that drew more than 100 players on a rainy morning. He raised $11,000 in memory of his father for the Jimmy Fund, he said.
“It was great to see my family, and so many of my friends from work, school, and Medford together in the same place, with the same goal, to honor my dad,” said Patterson, who graduated last year from Salem State University and now works in sales at LogMeIn, a software company in South Boston.
Minigolf was added to the list of fund-raisers approved by the Jimmy Fund about three years ago to expand its donor base, an official said.
“It brings us a whole new audience,” said Suzanne Fountain, executive director of The Jimmy Fund. “It’s a fun, family event.”
The Jimmy Fund raises about $35 million annually from charitable giving, with golf events contributing $6 million to $7 million, Fountain said.
“The majority of our fund-raising comes from small gifts,” Fountain said. “People who play in a golf tournament or put nickels and dimes in cannisters” placed everywhere from Stop & Shop supermarkets to Fenway Park.
Patterson said his mother, Georgia, encouraged him to organize the minigolf tournament, after receiving an e-mail from the Jimmy Fund, which is recruiting people to organize them. Mike Patterson was 50, and employed as the service manager at an Audi dealership in Brookline, when he died in February 1998, Tim said. His cancer had been diagnosed just a week earlier.
“My mother is the strongest person I know,” said Patterson, who was 10 when his father died. “After our father died, she stepped up to the plate. She helped us through his death and my sister’s cancer.”
Lynne Patterson had surgery, followed by chemotherapy, that stretched into her senior year at Medford High School.
“At the time, I was more focused on losing my dad,” she recalled. “I didn’t really process what was going on with me until later.”
Patterson said she earned a business degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and later took a corporate job in retail.
Three years ago, inspired by memories of caring oncology nurses, she enrolled in a nursing degree program at Salem State University.
After graduation last month, she started her job at Brigham & Women’s, where Giovino had his surgeries.
“Just based on my own, personal experience, I think I can bring a lot of compassion and understanding to patients,” she said.