Project Purple mourns the loss of Rick Carone, a man who was an important part of our ‘family’ and an inspiration to us all. Rick, who courageously battled pancreatic cancer for four years, passed away from his illness on June 29th, 2017. Rick had a profound impact on all who knew him. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Team Carone Foundation, Project Purple is honored to announce the Rick Carone Fellowship Grant for Pancreatic Cancer Research. The grant, which will be awarded annually, will pay the salary of a pancreatic cancer researcher in the Chicago, IL area for a year.
Rick grew up in Cary, Illinois where he indulged his love of sports and the outdoors. He was a standout athlete in high school who played baseball at Ole Miss. Rick was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1993. He played for the organization’s minor league team for four seasons. Following his baseball career, he completed his education and enjoyed success in the sales and marketing profession.
From the time he was a young boy, Rick was passionate about hunting. Eventually, Rick turned his passion into his next profession. He served as Field Editor and Videographer for the show Buck Commander for eight years. Taking things a step further, in 2015, he became a featured hunting athlete on the show Sheep Shape.
While Rick loved his career in outdoor television programming, his pancreatic cancer diagnosis led him to the world of charitable work. In 2014, he founded the Team Carone Foundation. Their first event was the 2014 Team Carone #Shutdown Cancer Music Fest. This music festival has now become an annual event, with proceeds going towards cancer research, local families impacted by cancer, and to student athletes from Rick’s home school district.
Rick: The Inspiration
Every person who knew Rick Carone used the same words to describe him: ‘He’s inspiring’ or ‘He’s such an inspiration’. Rick, who was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer at the age of 42 in 2013, truly inspired everyone he met. Over the years, several friends, and even some acquaintances, of Rick’s chose to run for Project Purple in his honor. Every person who ran on his behalf spoke about how Rick made an incredible impact on his or her life. Perhaps one of those who was most inspired by Rick is Project Purple Founder and CEO, Dino Verrelli.
The Triple Threat
“Rick was like a brother to me,” Dino explains. Dino and Rick first met in 2013, as Rick’s journey with pancreatic cancer began. Dino found Rick’s approach towards his cancer fight incredibly moving. He explains, “He never let cancer define him.” In fact, what Dino and all of Rick’s loved ones learned was that Rick defined himself by what he referred to as his ‘triple threat’: God, family and friends.
A man of great faith, Rick helped those around him, including Dino, deepen their own belief systems. Rick’s family, including his two daughters, Karsyn and Tyler, were the center of his life. Nothing was more important than family in Rick’s eyes. Finally, Rick had an incredible network of friends who loved him, and whom he loved, very deeply.
Friends with Shared Goals
Dino and Rick stayed in constant contact over the four years of Rick’s pancreatic cancer battle. The two developed a deep friendship and shared the goal of wanting to rid the world of pancreatic cancer. They discussed ways they could help each other towards their common goal. Dino supported the Team Carone Foundation and Rick frequently sent runners to Project Purple.
Defying the Odds
When Rick was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was told he had just six months to live. Despite his prognosis, Rick defied all of the odds. He tried everything that medicine and God had to offer and lived for an astonishing four years. Though he fought with everything he had, by the summer of 2017, there was nothing else Rick or his doctors could do to save his life.
“He never complained that he was battling terminal cancer,” Dino says. “He would say he was tired of having chemotherapy, but he never gave up fighting. We really bonded during those four years. I learned a lot from him about how to really live life.”
Team Carone Foundation
After Rick’s passing, Dino continued working with the Carone family on the 2017 #Shutdown Cancer Music Fest. Thanks to the continued outpouring of support from all who knew Rick and the generosity of the Team Carone Foundation, Project Purple created the Rick Carone Fellowship Grant for Pancreatic Cancer Research. As Rick wanted, the funding will go towards funding a pancreatic cancer research fellow in the Chicago, Illinois area.
Dino sums up Rick’s legacy by saying, “Cancer did not define him or hold him back. He always said he hoped God healed him, and if He did not heal him, that He would use him to inspire others every day.” Rick Carone most certainly inspired others. We at Project Purple will never forget Rick. We hope to continue his legacy as we take another step towards our mission of a ‘World without Pancreatic Cancer’!
View this music video created in Rick’s honor HERE