Rich Spain uses the adage, “you don’t know what you don’t know” to describe his father’s PSP diagnosis. Rich does know his parents well, and as an only child would call them every day while in college. When he learned of his father’s diagnosis in 2016, he moved back home to Richmond as soon as he could to be with his parents. As the inaugural Director of Development at CurePSP, Rich hopes to be a calming presence for families, making the unknown a little less scary.
“I look forward to being a front door for the organization,” Rich said. “Being able to provide a personal connection during a trying time in people’s lives and connect them to relevant resources.”
Rich first learned about development and donor relations as an undergraduate at East Carolina University, when he asked his cross country and track coach where his scholarship was coming from. He became curious in the field which led to over a decade of working at universities, starting at the University of Virginia Athletics Department before going to Rice University then Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At Rice he began by fundraising for student athletes but given the small size of the school, “the second smallest Division I school,” he soon found himself fundraising for the whole student body. It was while at Rice that he learned of his father’s PSP diagnosis. He then returned home to Richmond and VCU to lead a fundraising team responsible for securing support for every school and unit on both medical and main campuses.
While taking care of his father, Rich sought information on PSP which led him to CurePSP. He reached out to then-Executive Director David Kemp, asking how he could use his fundraising skills to help the organization. Kemp sent him a list of central Virginia supporters who had given to CurePSP in the past, and Rich traveled around the region to meet them and learn about their journeys, relaying the information to his family so that they would know what to expect. Today, CurePSP offers Rich the opportunity to blend his personal and professional skills, connecting with people for a cause that truly matters to him.
“This is it for me,” Rich said. “I’m very fortunate that I can do what I care about — helping with care, finding a cure and promoting research — day in and day out.”
Rich begins his Director position with both of his parents in mind, emphasizing the importance of supporting not just patients but also care partners. He thinks back to all of the uncertainty surrounding his father’s battle, and remains dedicated to making CurePSP an accessible and personal resource so that no one feels alone in their journey.