Project Purple’s Diana Brancto

Meet Project Purple’s Office Manager, Diana Brancato! Diana is bringing a wealth of administrative and financial knowledge to her role as Office Manager. Diana worked in the field of education for 23 years. She has worked in a variety of educational settings, including preschools, public schools and charter schools. No matter the setting, Diana has always somehow ended up working in the administrative side of things. Though she enjoyed her work, she had started to feel like something was missing from her life. “Last year, I had several conversations with my husband about how I felt that there was something else that I should be doing,” Diana recalls. Little did she know that it was a connection to a friend from her Cross Fit gym that would provide her with the new opportunity and challenge she had been hoping to find.

Project Purple's Elizabeth, Diana and Dino at the New York City Marathon dinner
Project Purple’s Elizabeth, Diana and Dino at the New York City Marathon dinner

Joe Brancato, an avid Cross Fitter and Cross Fit coach, had been encouraging his wife Diana to come to the gym with him for three years. After experiencing a health scare, Diana finally decided to join him. She was hooked immediately.  Now Cross Fit has become part of her regular routine. “I go at the end of the day,” Diana explains. “It gives me time for myself, which I did not take for a long time. I am very focused while I am there, and it gives me mental clarity.” Diana has found that her exercise routine has helped alleviate stress in her life and made her better able to keep up with her active 8 year old daughter. One of the big reasons why Diana enjoys Cross Fit so much is the community. “I love the Cross Fit community. It is not something that you will find at another gym. There is a real bonding that takes place, and it is a motivating place to be.”

Joe and Diana Brancato became friends with Project Purple founder Dino Verrelli through their Cross Fit gym. Last year, Dino invited Diana to the John Casablancas fashion show that benefitted Project Purple. Diana also participated in the local Project Purple 5k road race. As Diana learned more about Project Purple and its mission, she and Dino began discussing the possibility of her coming to join the team. Diana explains, “I admire Dino’s passion for what he has created here at Project Purple. It inspires me to see how many people he continues to inspire.”

Project Purple's Lindsay, Diana & Liz at the New York City Marathon dinner
Project Purple’s Lindsay, Diana & Elizabeth at the New York City Marathon dinner

Diana started as Office Manager in July 2015. She spends a lot of her time overseeing the Project Purple finances. One of Diana’s favorite new duties at Project Purple is working on the patient financial aid program. When Diana worked as a school administrator, one of her functions was to help connect lower income families to resources in the community. This previous experience has helped her to step into the role of assisting cancer patients who are struggling financially.

Helping patients who are struggling to pay their bills is an emotionally gratifying experience. “Within the past three months, we have helped several people. People need help with their medical bills, their co-pays, their living expenses. We have helped single parents. We have helped patients who are unable to pay their bills because they are not able to work.” Most of the patients that Project Purple helps have medical insurance. Unfortunately, even with insurance, the bills often pile up. Diana loves being able to help the pancreatic cancer patients who are in need. She explains, “It is amazing when I open emails from the recipients of our financial aid program. They are so grateful and they feel so blessed that people want to help them. We don’t think much about a couple hundred dollars, but the money takes a lot off of their plates.”

Each year, Project Purple gives out several scholarships to students who have had a relative affected by pancreatic cancer. Diana also will be working on administering the Project Purple scholarship funds. This year, she was able to contact several schools to let them know that they would be receiving funding for students from Project Purple.

Diana also enjoys working with the college students who work as interns in the Project Purple office. “Our intern program is a great way for students to get experience. It is a great way for Project Purple to work with young people who may be trying to figure out what they want to do for a career or in graduate school.”

Diana is excited about her new career path with Project Purple. “I am so thankful for Dino giving me the opportunity to be a part of the team. It is so dear for him to open it up to me so that I could be a part of Project Purple. I feel really good about being a part of the organization.”

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