Connor's Heroes staff are holding up the heroes backpack and totebag

It started with the sight of a little boy wearing a tuxedo. At the 2014 Connor’s Heroes Heroes Art Ball, Vince Apruzzese and his family were the highest bidders on a sweet painting presented by a childhood cancer hero. The boy was only four years old and in the middle of a difficult treatment against neuroblastoma. The Heroes Art Ball was a night where they felt like a family — before cancer.

When Vince and his wife, Mary, brought the painting home, she didn’t feel right about hanging it up. She set it aside. One day, Mary saw on Facebook that the boy’s family moved to Texas. A few months later, the mother shared the devastating news: Her son lost his battle to cancer.

“Our hearts went out to the family. We knew the painting really belonged to his family, not ours,” said Vince.

Mary contacted the boy’s mom and offered to mail the painting to them. “We hoped his painting brought some peace to the family when they were grieving. He painted it with so much love and joy.”

Vince thought of the boy’s family when his employer, AT&T, gave him the opportunity to make a contribution to a nonprofit. “I am lucky to work for a company who believes in supporting nonprofits. We seek out organizations who are making a difference in small, but powerful ways. Obviously, I had a soft spot for the children Connor’s Heroes helped.”

Thanks to Vince, Connor’s Heroes received a $20,000 contribution from AT&T for our Heroes Bag and Backpack. Inside a Heroes Backpack, a child will find an iPad, crafts, toys, and games. No backpack is the same. Each is lovingly personalized for a child’s age and interests. In a Heroes Bag, a parent will receive the first (of many) gift cards for unexpected expenses that usually follow a cancer diagnosis. Our program team gives out, on average, six Heroes Bags and Backpacks a month. We are constantly restocking our shelves because more families are registering with Connor’s Heroes.

“I know this grant will do more than fill a backpack. A Heroes Backpack is a lifeline for a family. When the next child begins treatment, their Heroes Backpack will carry them through every step of their cancer journey. “

If you work for a corporation who gives back to your community, you can partner with Connor’s Heroes. Contact Celia Martin, Executive Director, at or (804) 897-1272.

Heroes Backpack and totebag