When Talia Castellano, daughter of investment banker Marc Winthrop, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 7, she eschewed wearing a wig and instead turned to makeup to rebuild her self-image, gaining guidance from a family friend who was a cancer survivor. Castellano quickly became a YouTube sensation through her channel, TaliaJoy18, where her makeup tutorials were viewed millions of times, and where she referred to makeup as her “wig.”
When she made a TV appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show, host Degeneres, who is a spokesperson for the CoverGirl line of makeup from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), announced that the makeup brand was naming Castellano an honorary CoverGirl.
At the age of 13, Castellano succumbed to neuroblastoma, which is diagnosed in roughly 800 children annually and ranks as the most common cancer in children under two years old.
In her memory, ACG New York is co-sponsoring Play Like a Pro, a March 5 hockey game at New York’s Madison Square Garden that will benefit the Band of Parents, a group led by Winthrop as chairman, that funds research to fund a cure for neuroblastoma, and MSG’s Garden of Dreams, which raises money to "make dreams come true" for children facing obstacles.
"My way of remembering my daughter isn't through the social media thing, it's going to be to find a cure for what killed her,” Winthrop says.
Winthrop, co-founder of middle market investment bank Triangle Capital LLC, along with Bob Landis of private equity firm the Riverside Co., play in an unofficial recreational hockey league at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Sunday nights.
"It's become a band of brothers," says Landis, who heads up the Mount Vernon games. He had been thinking for years about how great it would be to hold a hockey event a Madison Square Garden.
"The game is about finding a cure," says Winthrop. "It's a dream come true to skate on the Garden ice, and to do it with people that you work with, and to make a difference in terms of curing pediatric cancer."
Landis and Winthrop have a relationship that extends beyond hockey. Last spring, the two were working on a business project that required a trip to San Francisco during Castellano's spring break. Landis suggested Winthrop bring his daughter. "Had it not been for Bob pushing me to bring her, we wouldn't have had our last long spring break together," Winthrop says.
The hockey event will allow about 64 dealmakers to skate on Madison Square Garden's ice, and is the first of what Landis and Winthrop hope will become an annual gathering. The game will be followed by an ACG presentation that will include a talk about M&A among sports teams and a New York Rangers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs game.
Hockey had a way of making Castellano feel like a celebrity, even before she was one. Years ago, she made her way across the ice at one of Winthrop's hockey games, where all of his fellow skaters said hi to her and asked how she was doing. She asked her dad why they all knew her name.
Winthrop said, "Talia, you're the love of my life, and these are my friends, how could they not know who you are?" Castellano, who Winthrop says was freezing, refused to leave the rink early that night.