The Michael J. Valiant Senior Foundation was started in memory of Michael J. Valiant Sr. in 1996 after his sudden passing on September 27, 1995. Known lovingly as the Big Guy to friends and family, he was a business owner and active in the Carteret community for over 25 years.
His wife, Karen, and children Gino, Michael Jr., and Cathy decided that they would honor his memory by starting this foundation to help others. By getting friends and family together in his memory, it serves as a reminder of his loving and caring nature that he firmly held in his personal and professional lives. The money raised would be donated to COSAC, the Carteret Specials, and other local organizations that worked to help others- the way the Big Guy was always looking to lend a hand.
The Foundation’s mission took a dramatic turn when fate struct close to home. In 1997 Genare Jr. was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum, leaving Dara and Gino stunned and with more questions than answers for their next steps. Realizing the importance of awareness and access to information during the crucial early stages of intervention, the Valiant family realized the potential impact of centralizing the mission of the Foundation to Autism awareness and working with organizations like the Carteret Specials that were actively on the ground working with these individuals and families.
For over 20 years the Foundation has flourished in bringing together family, friends, business leaders, and community advocates to not only celebrate Mike and Karen Valiant, but also the tenants of love, service, and compassion they closely held in their lives. The Foundation has collected and donated over $250,000 to state and local organizations that focus on helping families much like those when Dara and Gino were themselves young parents hopeful for help and answers.