Ralph Colasanti Elected National President of CAF
April 23, 2022 – History was made today at the annual board meeting of the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation (CAF) when Ralph Colasanti was elected the first person with thalassemia to serve as National President of the Foundation’s board of directors. The Foundation, which was started in 1954, is the primary voice for those with thalassemia, a group of genetic disorders, one of which is also called Cooley’s anemia. People with severe forms of the disease require lifelong blood transfusions as often as every 2 weeks and often beginning in infancy.
“We are very pleased to have reached this historic moment and know that Ralph’s talents, skills, knowledge, and expertise will serve him well in this position,” says Peter Chieco, immediate Past National President of CAF. “Of equal importance, being a patient himself will provide a fresh perspective. No matter how deep the connection that I and our previous Presidents have with the thalassemia community, it is not quite the same experience as actually being a person who was born with and has lived with thalassemia for their entire lives.”
“The fact that I am able to serve in this capacity speaks to the tremendous efforts of The Cooley’s Anemia Foundation throughout the years,” says Ralph Colasanti. “Those that served before me helped propel many advances in the field of thalassemia over the last 20-30 years. Their commitment, with support from our donors, brought forth dedicated clinicians and researchers who are experts in thalassemia, not only advancing our quantity of life but the most important quality of life. These medical advances and the need for a safe blood supply are tirelessly promoted and supported by CAF.
“When I was diagnosed, the outlook was grim, a life expectancy into my late teens, early twenties, with many warning me that living a normal life – having a family, working, living very far into my adult years – was not likely, but faith brought me all that and more. And while there are still many mountains a person with thalassemia has to climb, we now are in a position where a well-managed patient can enjoy many of the same things as a person not living with thalassemia. It’s a challenge, but I and others like me have learned to never give up. And definitely don’t stop believing!”
Ralph is a financial coach and IT consultant at Holy Angels School. He and his wife are the parents of a son and a daughter and recently welcomed their first grandchild.