Boston’s fiercest philanthropists duke it out on the silver screen to become the city’s top fundraiser.
Quietly and mightily, five formidable women have been facing off—each one equipped with a sharp tongue, a steel will, and a take-cover thirst for victory—in the ultimate cat fight.
Frankly, it sounds horrifying. Hollywood has lately seemed intent on setting women against each other—in The Hunger Games and the Real Housewives franchise, for example—and it’s never a pretty image. But Christy Scott Cashman and Mary Chiochios had another notion. Take a group of women who are naturally nurturing and particularly strong at multitasking and put them to good use. “Our concept is to create fundraising platforms to expose a donor to multiple charities in one campaign,” Chiochios explains.
It’s called Charity Warriors: part contest, part reality show, and all about fundraising. “We use a competition between fundraisers to create a fun experience for the supporter and lead to more donations for each charity,” Chiochios says. Enter Barbara Quiroga, Christine McSherry, Reia Briggs Connor, Michelle Sanchez, and Erica Corsano. “Christy recognized my passion for fundraising and noticed I was always out and about, not to mention the fact that I’m not shy,” says Corsano, who competed on behalf of MSPCA-Angell, which works to relieve the suffering of animals, provide for their health and welfare, and prevent cruelty.
You can see how Corsano and her fellow warriors fared on April 15, when Cashman and Chiochios, both veteran producers (Cashman produced the movie The Kids Are All Right, with Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, while Chiochios produced Open Book Club on NECN), unveil a 90-minute documentary revealing the passion and strategies of the women in their quest for victory, as well as the final results (the funds raised by the warriors were donated to their respective charities). It’s funny. It’s touching. It’s heart-wrenching. And it’s real life.
“I have made it my life’s work to see a day when Duchenne is no longer a death sentence,” says Christine McSherry. When her son Jett was 5 years old, he was running around with his classmates. By his sixth birthday, he had been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a lethal genetic disorder affecting one in every 3,500 boys. She founded the Jett Foundation, a Kingston-based nonprofit raising money to research and cure the disease. For McSherry, the opportunity to compete in Charity Warriors—whether or not she won—was thrilling. “I was humbled to be included among these amazing, philanthropic, and inspirational women in this competition.”
Barbara Quiroga, who fought for Rogerson Communities, which supports elderly and low income men and women, agrees. “I thought, What a great opportunity to get in front of a new audience and talk about Rogerson Communities.” Rounding out the field are Michelle Sanchez, who battled for the Epiphany School, a charter school in Roxbury, and Reia Briggs Connor, who fought for Jared’s Foundation and Team Sanfilippo. Briggs Connor, a former New England Patriots cheerleader, joined the competition to represent her son, Jared, who was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, a condition that stops normal development and causes hyperactivity, sleep disorders, loss of speech, dementia, and, in many cases, death before adulthood.
But the April screening isn’t the end of Charity Warriors, says Cashman; it’s just the beginning. As well as announcing the winner, the screening will introduce the candidates for next season’s edition. Viewers can vote for their favorite on the Charity Warriors website, where prospective competitors can also submit audition videos, which the public can watch. “Charity Warriors is a combination of a contest, an online platform, and a live event,” says Cashman. “The website will also house content to assist women who are not in the contest. A mentoring section, informative videos, and other helpful content will be created for general fundraising ideas.” Isobar, a digital marketing agency, is the first main sponsor, but Cashman hopes that others will step up to help spread the idea from state to state. “It sounds like a cliché that everybody wins in Charity Warriors,” she says, “but everyone really does win.” April 15 at 7 pm. For the venue and other information, visit charitywarriors.org.