Carolina parents Mike and Helen Norona came from families that didn’t have a lot to give, but they were taught to help others. Mike learned more about philanthropy as CFO of Advance Auto Parts, a company that was giving millions to the JDRF, the leading funder for type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. He had no experience with the disease, but after meeting T1D families, he quickly became Advance’s spokesperson and champion to the diabetes community. The whole family joined in by volunteering and raising money.
“In a twist of fate,” he said. “Our youngest son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We were already passionate about finding a cure, but now it’s personal.”
When Advance moved the Noronas to Raleigh, their oldest son, Jordan, applied to Carolina and is now a sophomore business major. “When he was admitted our family started to learn more about UNC, and the more we learned about it the more impressed I was with the people and culture,” Mike said. “I wanted to get involved.”
He quickly discovered a way to help business students. “I had the opportunity to travel and work internationally, and I applaud the global programs the Kenan-Flagler Business School has developed to help students gain global mindsets,” Mike said. “Everyone should have that opportunity.”
He and Helen created the Norona Family Global Experiences Scholarship to help students participate in the school’s undergraduate Global Programs. They also joined the Carolina Parents Council and the UNC Kenan-Flagler Parents Council, and Mike joined the Kenan-Flagler Board of Advisors.
“When you’re younger you aspire to have material things, and although those things give you pleasure, helping others gives our family true happiness,” Mike said.
“Whether it’s helping find a cure for type 1 diabetes, helping students or something else you are passionate about, do something,” Mike said. “If you don’t have money, give time. If you don’t have time, share advice. If you don’t have advice, go volunteer on a Saturday afternoon. Every little bit helps.”