Walk With Sally was founded by Nick Arquette in 2005, named for his mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer and after many years of treatment, died when Nick was sixteen. After attending both the American Conservatory Theater and Boise State University, Nick moved to Manhattan Beach 25 years ago to pursue a career in the film industry and has worked as a professional actor ever since. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Nick created and founded a series of companies beginning with a niche business within the film industry. For the past 20 years, Nick has been a broker to this industry, negotiating deals for major productions shooting on location in LA and throughout the United States. In 2006 with a new passion for aiding the aging population, he co-founded Adia InHome Care, support services that enhance the quality of life for the aging, and recently started Assisted Preferred, a local information site and customer support service for placement services, quality senior care referrals and ongoing support.
Nick never forgot how challenging and isolating the years of his mother’s illness and loss had been for him as a child. Wanting to keep the legacy of his Mother alive while seeking to serve youth facing similar circumstances, Nick searched for mentoring opportunities in the community only to discover that no organization was filling this critical support gap. After careful research, he launched Walk With Sally and began mentoring a youth who had recently lost his mother to cancer. From that first successful friendship, Walk With Sally’s core Mentoring Program has expanded, having served hundreds of families throughout the South Bay over the past 10+ years and today actively serving 63 children, boys and girls ages 7-17, with trained volunteer mentors throughout Los Angeles County. Additional support programs now include the Junior Mentoring program; quarterly Friendship events; Hope for the Holidays; and scholarship and assistance programs. As the only known organization providing this specific service within Los Angeles if not beyond, Walk With Sally has partnered with school districts, hospitals, and health care providers, and local cancer and grief support organizations for referrals to the program and to facilitate access to additional services as needed for mentees and their families. With all his work throughout the community, in 2011 Nick was awarded Citizen of the Year by MB Chamber Women in Business and was a finalist for the Daily Breeze Most Philanthropic in 2012.
Who Was Sally?
Sally was Nick Arquette’s mom. He and his brother lived with her in Northern California while she was diagnosed with and battling breast cancer. They struggled to try to make sense of why their mother was going through this and at the same time longed to have a mother who was just like all the other mom’s they saw with their friends. As the mounting pressures of cancer took their toll, this single mother could no longer care for her two sons and Nick and his brother moved to Idaho to live with their father. The impact of cancer had started to take it’s toll. At just 11 years old Nick realized that cancer changes everything… he and his brother had to leave everything they had known, school, friends, family, and move to start a new life with their father in Idaho. Although he had his brother, Nick had always wanted someone who could understand what he was going through since his friends hadn’t really been exposed to cancer in their own lives yet.
Eventually Nick moved to Southern California, started his own life as an entrepreneur in the film and healthcare industries and yet always kept Sally in his heart. By the time he reached his early 30’s Nick realized that who Sally was, and her spirit, were no longer alive. She had succeeded in making sure that he grew up to be ok and yet her memory was fading around him. Thinking back on those days in his early teens, he started diving into the world of mentorship, wanting to create an opportunity to give hope to children who have been in a similar place as he was. There was nothing available in the community like this, so his creative instincts kicked in, and after extensive research, and with the support of friends and family, he started the Walk With Sally mentoring program in 2005.
THE FIRST FRIENDSHIP
The first opportunity to become a mentor came when Nick met Hossany through the Lawndale School District. Hossany had recently lost his mother to cancer and Nick knew this was the perfect opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child who had a similar experience. Nick was able to visit with Hossany and create an immediate friendship which allowed Hossany to trust him and open up about what he was going through. Eventually Hossany’s teachers and counselors started noticing a change in the young boy, he was doing better in school and showing improvement in social skills. When Hossany turned 18, he and his brother were looking through some old school papers that had been saved. He noticed how Walk With Sally kept coming up in comments made by his teachers and counselors, they were noting the great improvements happening after his time with Nick. Hossany felt compelled to get back in touch with Nick to thank him for making a huge impact on his life at such a crucial point. Nick had given him confidence and hope.
“From this day forward, Sally represents all the moms, the dads, and the siblings who suffer trying to get through the diagnosis of cancer while still being a parent or sibling to their loved one”
WHERE WE ARE NOW
Today, Walk With Sally has grown in size and influence, helping people of all ages through meaningful connections that last a lifetime. Our mentors and mentees provide one another with support, guidance, and friendship through difficult times. But they also are there for one another to share the good times too. For at Walk With Sally we are not just about coping with the trials of cancer, but helping one another move past them to celebrate the lives of the people we’ve lost, but who are still very much a part of our hearts.https://wws-web-site-videos.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Art+Wall+Video+SB+Mag.mp4