Annual Society

A Foundation of Friends

Aadel Askari’s friends liken his battle with cancer to that of a prizefighter in the ring. When cancer knocked him down, Aadel got up and fought back with everything he had. “No pain, no gain” was his much-repeated mantra, whether he was encouraging his teammates as captain of the Orange High School freshman wrestling team or recovering from brutal chemotherapy treatments. Sadly, Aadel passed away in 1984, while friends held vigil in the waiting room at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. He was 15 years old.

Nearly 30 years later, Aadel’s classmates still swap stories and keep alive precious memories of their pal with the mischievous smile, infectious laugh and legendary courage. They honor his legacy through the Aadel Askari No Pain No Gain Foundation, a small nonprofit that gives exclusively to pediatric cancer-related causes. The group’s first three fundraisers, held at Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls (the owner is a classmate), have resembled reunions, drawing friends and friends of friends who knew and admired Aadel. They come for the camaraderie and give generously to the foundation to help children fighting cancer.

“Our entire board is composed of professionals who have wonderful lives. Through the foundation, we’re able to take the blessings that we have received in life and give back to those in need,” says foundation co-founder Andy Goldwasser, an attorney with Ciano & Goldwasser in Cleveland and one of Aadel’s closest friends.

The foundation solicits “wish lists” from individuals and institutions that care for kids with cancer. Gift requests are carefully considered by board members, including Mr. Goldwasser and Aadel’s brother, Arman Askari, MD, a cardiologist. (Aadel’s father, Ali Askari, MD, is Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at UH Case Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.)

Last year, Mr. Goldwasser and several other friends of Aadel were delighted to deliver 20 iPads to the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Division at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. On another visit to the hospital, they fulfilled a diverse wish list, including games for Wii™ and Xbox 360, washable paints, a doll hospital play set, food-pantry staples and scrapbooking supplies to help patients’ parents pass the time.

During their visit, Aadel’s friends met with nurses who cared for Aadel three decades earlier and still remember his courage. They also visited with Ethan Leonard, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Rainbow and a pediatrician specializing in infectious disease. Dr. Leonard was a student at Orange High School and knew Aadel.

“Our work for the foundation has been so rewarding,” says Mr. Goldwasser. “Because of Aadel, I’m a stronger person with a better attitude and the ability to appreciate the things that really matter in life.”

From left, back row: UH’s John Letterio, MD; Molly Winterich, RN; Ethan Leonard, MD; Linda Winfield, RN; and Angela Locke, CCLS; with Jay Siegel, Michael Levine, in front row: Andy Goldwasser (kneeling) from the Aadel Askari Foundation; and sisters Krista and Holly Wright Fletcher