By Christian Dischler
Rich Mauti, a former National Football League standout with the New Orleans Saints and founder of The Rich Mauti Cancer fund, understands success arises in the aftermath of failure. His story embodies the writings of philosophers long ago, and illustrates the strength and potential of humans throughout history.
In 1978, Mauti entered his second year in the NFL. His job was dangerous as a contact sport. It meant risking his health on every play, but getting tackled wasn’t what knocked him off balance. It was his father’s cancer diagnosis.
“When you find out someone in your family has cancer, you know nothing about it and you feel lost. I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know what to do,” Mauti said. A year later his father passed away.
“To this day that’s stuck in my head as to why we’re where we are, and what we’re getting ready to do.”
Mauti converted this adversity to enact change and created the Rich Mauti Scramble Against Cancer Golf Tournament.
“I wanted the money we raised to go directly to the patients in need, so we decided to do our own 501(c)(3) in 1981, the Rich Mauti Cancer Fund, and keep all the funds in the state of Louisiana. We’re a 100 percent volunteer run non-profit, and I was conscious of the foundation being as pure as it could be,” the Mandeville resident said.
The tournament continued to serve the Louisiana cancer community until Hurricane Katrina. But again, Mauti identified the obstacle in his path and created an opportunity. The Rich Mauti Tennis Classic, an annual fundraising event held in Covington, LA, was born.
Now heading into their 40th year, new energy surrounds the organization. Mauti and his wife Nancy, with their kids, Patrick, Rachel and Michael, join forces to each contribute a unique skill set. The result is a re-branding of the organization as the Mauti Cancer Fund, and their first priority is a new initiative called #NeauxCancer.
“I know what I felt like when I was told that my dad had cancer. I didn’t know who to call. I want a comprehensive phone call where you can find out anything. Find every hospital and doctor that’s in town; get feedback and say, ‘Okay, this is what I have. What did you do, how did it work? Who are the best people to see?’” Mauti explained. “That’s the objective of #NeauxCancer. To be a comprehensive, community-based fundraising organization available to everyone that’s in need.”
It’s an ambitious project, and enlisting the help of the family provides a unique quality to the new look cancer fund. Rachel Mauti and Richard Taubin of MPRESSED Media have spearheaded the re-brand and overhaul. Michael and Patrick Mauti have brought their expertise in the CBD field, adding a layer for alternative health solutions. #NeauxCancer gives the fund a platform to branch out while tying everything back to its core principle.
“That will be at the top of the mountain and we’ll be able to put other organizations and categories under that,” said Mauti, discussing intentions to incorporate several divisions under the #NeauxCancer tagline.
Those efforts will include changing legislation for alternative cancer treatments, creating a database of healthcare information and local specialists, providing a support system for affected families and creating a CBD product line for alternative solutions.
“It’s a one-stop-shop that will be comprehensive and include all cancer related services, doctors, clinics and interactive elements like blogs and social media. We want to give hope. When you hear the word cancer, a switch flips that it’s terminal. We want to change that. We want to say, yes it’s a challenge, but here are the tools to help you and your family get through this. And it starts with the right resources and attitude,” said Mauti, detailing his vision for #NeauxCancer.
“I’m open to new ideas. I don’t want to get locked in. So it’s exciting to have four or five heads working on this. I know it’s going to be impactful for our community,” said Mauti. “We’re also excited about our partnership with Ochsner and St. Tammany Health System. That’s going to be a great collaboration moving forward.”
The upcoming year brings excitement for the Mauti Cancer Fund, which to date has generated over $3.5 million. Mauti, a pioneer in cancer funding, appreciates the path and people which led him to this moment.
“I wouldn’t be here without the people that helped along the way, for nothing, on a volunteer basis because they believe in our cause, because they want to help. But along the way maybe half have passed away. That drives our determination further. – ’How are we going to help the next person so they don’t have to go through this? How do we reach more people?’ That’s where a lot of our drive comes from. Seeing, feeling and getting to know the people going through this,” he said, his voice emotional.
“It’s all about attitude. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you. You build a mountain one pebble at a time.”
Over his career, Mauti has been transforming adversity into opportunity, collecting pebbles for the foundation of his mountain and creating connections with his community. Now he and his family are ready to reach heights unheard of and create far-reaching, comprehensive support for a community in need.
Visit MautiCancerFund.org to volunteer, donate or find out more.