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North Hills Monthly

Cranberry CUP Brings Community Together to Help Families in Crisis

Jun 30, 2015 09:43PM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch
When you say that “your cup runneth over,” what you mean is that you are blessed with an abundance of good things in your life. The Cranberry CUP, then, is aptly named.

The ‘CUP’ in the title of this nonprofit organization stands for Communities Uniting People. Their mission, says founder and president, Cathy Cortazzo, is to coordinate events to bring all facets of the community together in order to make a difference in the lives of people who are experiencing extreme medical and financial issues. Beneficiaries must live in the Seneca Valley School District.

It all started with a softball tournament in 2000. Cortazzo was a member of her homeowner’s association when she had the idea to have a tournament with other Cranberry neighborhoods. That year, the money they raised went to the American Cancer Society.

In the CUP’s second year, the group realized that while there are many wonderful national organizations that could use help, there were also many deserving people right in their own backyards. From that point on, the nonprofit decided to select what Cortazzo calls an “inspirational person or family” to be the recipients of the money raised.

“I call them that because in that one weekend, they will do more for our community than we can do for them. Life can take a major turn; this reminds people to keep their priorities in mind,” said Cortazzo, adding that she does not want anyone to feel as if they are receiving charity.

“They’re truly an inspiration to everyone to see how strong and brave they are to go through the things they are going through. At the same time, the community lifts them up, to let them know that there are people who care for them,” she continued. 

This year’s inspirational person is Steve Popson. Popson, 27, and his wife are the parents of three young children. Last year, he was hospitalized with a heart condition; only 20 percent of his heart is functioning, and between surgery, rehab and medications, he is no longer able to work in his previous job. His wife was forced to quit her job to care for him and the rest of the family.

Now in its 16th year, the growth of the organization has exceeded Cortazzo’s expectations. To date, they have raised close to $1.5 million dollars, all of which has been donated to deserving Seneca Valley residents.

In addition to a softball tournament, in which about 60 teams participate, the organization also hosts a golf tournament and a 5K, as well as a kickoff party. Anyone is welcome to submit a nomination for an inspirational family or person; Cortazzo and the organization’s board of directors make the final determination.

This year, the Cranberry CUP events will be held the weekend of August 7-9. But the giving continues year-round. For example, the organization paid for a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) to help a family whose daughter has juvenile diabetes.

“People plan their vacations around the CUP now,” said Cortazzo. It also creates bonds within the community. “It is a chance for people to see their neighbors. It’s one weekend when you can all get together, have a good time, and make a difference in someone’s life,” she said.

In addition to community members and the support of the township, corporate sponsors have jumped in to help, as well as a slew of year-round and weekend volunteers, and ASA-certified umpires.

“To win the CUP is a big deal,” added Cortazzo. “It’s like they just won the World Series.”  

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