Tuesday, February 28, 2017

11th Hour Racing's Mary Chicorelli
Ally/Legal Advocate
Attorney Mary Chicorelli advocates on behalf of the underprivileged community in Philadelphia, including patients of 11th Hour Racing, through her firm Equal Access Legal Services. (Photo Credit: Kelly A. Burkhardt)

By Nicholas Malfitano

A dedicated attorney and ally of 11th Hour Racing, Mary Chicorelli offers her practiced legal expertise to those most in need of it.

A holder of a B.A. from Salisbury University, an M.A. from Rutgers University and a J.D. from the New England School of Law, Mary began by explaining how she first came to ally herself with 11th Hour Racing.

“I think I first heard of Mike Rowe on the RUN 215 Facebook page,” Mary said. “Sometimes he posts stuff on there and he’ll talk about 11th Hour Racing. Last year, I was involved in this called “A Prom To Remember”, which is a prom dance for kids with cancer.”

That event, created by organization in Florida, was in need of more volunteers last year, and Mary accepted the invite.

“[Later], I think I needed help. One of my buddies, Charlie Ellison, who’s pretty involved in community stuff said, “You need to get in touch with Mike Rowe.” My first initial contact with him was last year. I reached out to him again, because they were planning “A Prom To Remember” again for the spring of 2017. I was trying to figure out who to contact in the medical world, because that’s not my realm at all,” Mary said.

Mary added Mike learned she had started a non-profit law firm in Philadelphia named Equal Access Legal Services in August 2016, geared towards providing pro bono legal consultation and services to the financially-disadvantaged in the community.

“Recently, one day, Mike reached out to me and said, “We need a lawyer for this one issue,” Mary said, referring to an 11th Hour Racing patient who was involved in a billing matter with Philadelphia Gas Works over her heating bill. That was more of making phone calls to people I know, rather than representing her. Although if it comes to it, I’d obviously be happy to do that as well.”

Mary explained the resident patient in question was afflicted with Stage IV cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes, and was first diagnosed back in 2014.

“She stopped working and I think her husband had lost his job, so they weren’t able to pay any of their bills. So then, you start prioritizing your bills, right? Which ones am I going to pay with what dollars I’m going to get?” Mary said.

Mary said between unpaid bills, fees and fines, the PGW obligation had accrued to an amount of nearly $5,000.00.

“Somebody at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center contacted Mike about the bill, and Mike was trying to raise money. They were able to raise a substantial amount to cover this winter, but PGW required the payment in full. Basically, I was calling anybody and everybody, and every politician I could think of, to try and get [their service] turned back on without them having to pay the entire thing,” Mary said.

At this point, Mary said a member of the Philadelphia City Council who she preferred to leave anonymous had contacted the patient in question and was actively assisting her with the PGW billing situation.

“Hopefully, it works out. Fortunately, this has been a pretty mild winter,” Mary added. “That was a no-brainer for me [to get involved]. Too many people just need a little help, you know? What I have definitely learned since opening this practice is that a very small amount of compassion goes a long, long way. You just don’t realize how people are treated on a daily basis until you start actually listening to people and trying to help them.”

In that area, Mary commented she has had nothing but positive experiences in consulting her clients. Mary also mentioned other areas of the law her legal practice would address for those in need, such as immigration issues, plus probate and wills.

Mary herself is a distance runner, with her last long run taking place during the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2015. However, she was badly injured during the race with plantar fasciitis in both of her feet and was forced to take a year off from running – but is now slowly rebuilding her running endurance.

“Once I go back to my longer runs, I’m going to go out running with Mike for one of his fundraising things. My goal is to get back up to a 6-mile to 7-mile run so I can run with [11th Hour Racing],” Mary stated.

Mary added she would enjoy the opportunity to participate in fundraising events with 11th Hour Racing and offer more legal advice to those in need of it.
“Any time you need legal help, I hope Mike knows that, that I’m only a phone call away now. If I can’t help you or help the person, I’ll definitely try to find someone who can,” Mary stated.

Mary also detailed her own individual connection to the cause of 11th Hour Racing.

I think what you guys do is amazing. I have a family member that has cancer, so it is extremely personal to me, what you guys do. I think that if there were more people like Mike, there would be less people to worry about. You guys are doing really good things. Altruism personified,” Mary said. 

Runners, this is a call to action! If you would like to directly support 11th Hour Racing and enjoy a great race through one of the oldest and most storied university campuses in the country in the process, sign up for the Rutgers University Unite Half Marathon! The race takes place at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey on April 9.

For all registered runners, regardless of individual or team participation, free bus transportation will be provided to and from the race. The bus will pick up all runners in front of City Tap House in Logan Square at 5:30 a.m. on race day. In addition, City Tap House is hosting the race after-party upon runners returning to Philadelphia, featuring happy hour-priced drinks. A cover charge of $10 at the door will be directly donated to 11th Hour Racing! More information may be found on the race's Facebook page, and please confirm your attendance on 11th Hour Racing's Facebook event page for the race.

11th Hour exists because no family should endure the added burden of financial hardship while they are fighting cancer. We seek to lessen or even eliminate these burdens, so patients may focus on recovery, and their families on spending time with their loved ones.

If you are able, please help 11th Hour Racing support people in our city fighting cancer, and unable to pay their bills by making a tax-deductible donation. Your support will prevent evictions, purchase food, clothing, medicine, and ensure utilities are not shut off.

Support A Local Cancer Patient

Check out the new crowdfunding page for 11th Hour Racing at the following link, as a new way to support the group! Thank you so much for your generosity!

Support 11th Hour Racing

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