The Way of the Entrepreneur

A Conversation with Bill Raveis

The William Raveis Charitable Fund has continued it’s support of Damon Runyon Cancer Research this year with our 2nd Annual Ride + Walk event in Hingham, Mass on 10/1 & Norwalk, CT on 10/16.  Damon Runyon identifies scientists with the highest potential to revolutionize how they prevent, diagnose, and treat all forms of cancer.

Unlike other cancer charities, Damon Runyon does not place safe bets on well-known, established scientists. They seek emerging talent with bold innovative ideas, the rising stars of cancer research who are willing to take risks and are not daunted by the most complex scientific challenges.  Our guest blogger, Peter Cleary, Director of Marketing & Communications at Damon Runyon interviews Bill Raveis below.
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William Raveis, Jr., joined the Damon Runyon Board of Directors earlier this year, and he’s eager to help us provide today’s best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative cancer research. 

You were recently elected to the Damon Runyon Board of Directors. How did you originally become involved in the organization?

I was invited to Damon Runyon’s Annual Breakfast in New York City by a friend of mine, Bob Scinto.  I had no idea what Damon Runyon was at the time.  I basically attended because of my friendship with Bob.  However, I was blown away by the Damon Runyon presentation and its guest speakers.  What impressed me the most was the enthusiasm and devotion this organization has in solving the problem of cancer.  At the event, a Nobel Prize Laureate who was funded by Damon Runyon (James E. Rothman, PhD) spoke about the importance of the Foundation’s mission.  After that, I was hooked.

You and your company have given generously to cancer research for many years, but last year you decided to partner with the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. What about Damon Runyon’s approach to cancer research resonated with you?

Damon Runyon’s approach to cancer research is very smart and stimulating.  They spend their time and energy to find the smartest young scientists and help fulfill the scientists’ passion to try to cure all forms of cancer.  The funding Damon Runyon provides gives these young scientists the ability to pursue their research with dedication for years.  Furthermore, I am very impressed with the quality of the Board members and their enthusiasm and devotion to finding cures for cancer.

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In your book, The Way of the Entrepreneur, Lessons from the Journey to Build a Family-Owned Business Empire, you explain how taking risks helped you grow a highly successful family business. As you know, Damon Runyon takes risks on young researchers with big ideas and lofty goals. What similarities do you see between the real estate business and cancer research?

In starting your own business as well as in cancer research, there are a lot of unknowns.  In both pursuits, one must be passionate first.  You have to train and educate yourself in your discipline.  You have to innovate all the time.  And solving problems is also part of cancer research and business.  Furthermore, the journey has a lot of pitfalls and at times it is not fun, but having the desire to achieve your vision pushes you through all the ups and downs.  It is about more than money—it’s about who you are and what you want to do with your life.

What would a cure for cancer mean to you personally?

Personally, it would mean a great deal.  I have been on the journey with my wife, Candy, who has Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which was diagnosed 18 months ago.  She was given 5 months to live at the initial diagnosis.  She has been on a regimen of chemotherapy and new drugs targeting her cancer.  Candy has been in bed for the last several months and is now starting to walk again.  It’s a miracle.

Candy and I love the opportunity to be with our grandchildren—especially during the holidays, spending time picking apples in our orchard and flowers in Candy’s garden. And in winter, spending time in our Florida home with our family and friends. We are witnessing firsthand the results of new research and targeted drugs.  A cure for cancer is very personal and a very big deal for my family.  We are very passionate supporters for cancer research.

 

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