NEW HOOK ON HEALING
By Mitch Hurst
By Mitch Hurst
When Winnetka residents Gina and Matt Pistorio opened their commercial real estate business, Madison Rose, in 2020, they had more than selling or leasing properties on their minds. From the very beginning, they also wanted philanthropy to be a big part of the company’s mission.
“The bigger purpose of Madison Rose was to have a something other than just negotiating commercial real estate deals,” says Matt, explaining that the company is named after the couple’s two daughters. “That’s why we gave it the name we did.”
Driving the choice to make philanthropy an integral part of their new real estate business was Gina’s experience as a breast cancer survivor. Her love of fly fishing was especially instrumental during her healing process. So, in their first year of business, the couple held a virtual fundraiser for Casting for Recovery—a national organization that funds healing outdoor retreats for breast cancer survivors and those undergoing breast cancer treatment.
“With Casting for Recovery, we just thought that we fished together a lot, and it was therapeutic,” Gina Pistorio says. “After breast cancer, that was the one thing we did together, and we enjoyed doing it, so we teamed up with Casting for Recovery.”
The first virtual fundraiser was held in 2020 and the couple has held an online fundraiser each October to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, followed by an in-person fundraiser, Moonlight, in November. To date, they have raised more than $300,000 for Casting for Recovery.
This year’s Moonlight event will be held on Thursday, November 16, at BIÂN, a private health and wellness club in River North. In past years, hundreds of the couple’s real estate colleagues, friends, and family have attended and this year they are hoping to include even more at the event, which is open to the public. Tickets are $125. The virtual fundraiser also remains online through October 31 for those who can’t make the event.
Among this year’s sponsors are Bear Construction, Centre Construction Group, Chicago Board of Trade Building, Alvarez & Marsal Property Solutions, The Prime Group, EWP Architects, and Stantec.
The choice to hold this year’s Moonlight at a wellness venue like BIÂN is particularly meaningful.
Earlier this year, Gina had surgery to remove a brain tumor, another traumatic experience. In addition to raising funds for Casting for Recovery, this year’s event will also spotlight the importance of mental and emotional health for survivors of all kinds—featuring a variety of activity rooms that include a magician, a live painter, a silent disco room, dueling pianos, food, and sound meditation.
“We are in real estate and instead of it being all real estate people, the last two years we opened it up to more family and friends and significant others,” Gina says. “So, a lot of our friends from Winnetka and family will join. We’d love for people on the North Shore to come because there are a lot of women around here that have been diagnosed.”
The couple is also talking to the national Casting for Recovery organization about opening a chapter in Illinois. Currently, the funds they raise go toward the organization’s general fund, but having a chapter in Illinois would allow them to directly sponsor fly fishing trips for women in Illinois.
While the Pistorios say there are a lot of worthy, larger charities addressing breast cancer, they wanted to support Casting for Recovery because it’s also personal.
“When our family started going out to Montana to the place we have there, and our little girls were getting older, we just started spending so much more time in nature and recognize how therapeutic it can be,” Gina says. “So, Casting for Recovery really ties together some of the things that we use as therapy for our own family.”
“If you’ve ever been fly fishing, you know that there’s nothing other than maybe playing a musical instrument where you are more present than when you fly fish because it is very difficult. It’s challenging and you don’t think about anything else other than what you’re doing at that moment,” Matt adds. “You’re fully present and you’re not thinking about the treatment or what you’ve gone through.”
Casting for Recovery fly-fishing trips also connect women with other survivors where they can build new relationships. They also have oncologists that the survivors can talk to and confide in. The organization’s mission is about making a difference, in the short-term and long-term.
“We just found with Gina—and all these younger women who were getting breast cancer reaching out to her trying to understand her experience—that this was an organization that doesn’t see the amount of fundraising that a typical breast cancer organization sees in terms of donations, but it has such a massive impact on these women,” Matt says.
For more information on the Madison Rose Moonlight fundraiser, visit castingforrecovery.harnessgiving.org/campaigns/12106.