Ashley Campolattaro and Angela Fuentes are the co-founders and executive directors of Step Sisters, a Brambleton-based organization that helps breast cancer patients in Northern Virginia provide quality-of-life services and support to overcome the practical, everyday obstacles of daily expenses like mortgage and utility payments when their household funds have been diverted to paying for treatments, medications and other necessities for battling the disease. In the past, the Step Sisters’ annual springtime Ribbon Run has been their main fundraising event, but since it was cancelled for 2020 because of the COVID pandemic, the group’s focus has shifted to their Crisis Fund to provide recipients with general financial support.
“A year doesn’t go by that I don’t know someone new facing a cancer diagnosis,” Ashley Campolattaro says. “The Step Sisters’ co-founder, Angela, as well as my mother who lives at The Woods at Birchwood, are both breast cancer survivors. Our work lets us ‘pay it forward’ for vulnerable cancer patients, and many of our Board members have joined us for exactly the same reasons.”
Ashley and her family – husband Dario and sons Jackson, Max and Wesley – have lived in Brambleton since 2003. The boys are in their teens and early twenties now, with the eldest two attending Virginia Tech and James Madison University, but Brambleton is always their home beacon. Whenever the family is all together, they love spending time at the Town Center and the Farmers’ Market, and two of the boys who are avid skateboarders are excited for the opening of Hanson Regional Park’s skateboarding park. Health and fitness are key themes in the Campolattaro household, and that translates to the mission of the Step Sisters’ organization, too.
“Our niche has always been geared around fitness,” Ashley says. “This year, when we had to cancel the Ribbon Run, we had to brainstorm to come up with creative ways to engage our supporters so that we can continue our important work.” The result is this year’s online-based Step Up! Virtual Fitness Challenge. Registration is open now and the challenge officially started October 1st. Participants set a goal to run, walk, bike, or do other fitness activities. They track their progress on their favorite wearable tracker or on the Charity Footprints app. Teams can be any size, and prizes will be awarded based on an average activity level of the top 10 team members. There is also an optional fundraising component with prizes at different financial thresholds.
“Every work out counts,” Ashley explains, “whether you are paddleboarding at Beaverdam Reservoir, running or walking the miles of trails throughout Brambleton, enjoying outdoor yoga classes or going to the gym.”