Foundation honors late residents by giving back to the community

by Laura Straub

When 29-year-old Timothy Robert Roland was killed in a car accident on June 6, 2016, his family and friends honored him by doing something he had always loved.

According to his brother, Shawn Roland, Timmy had been an avid golfer and worked at Gleneagles Golf Club in Twinsburg. So about a month after the accident, Shawn, along with Timmy’s good friend, Chris Gregory, got the gang together and hit the links in his memory. After 80 people showed up for the golf outing, the two realized they could turn the event into something even more impactful.

Shawn and Chris decided to use the golf outing as a fundraiser. All that was left to do was decide where they wanted the money to go.

They created the Timothy Robert Roland Memorial Foundation to give back to the community they grew up in. That started with college scholarships for Twinsburg High School seniors.

Then on Aug. 27, 2017, while members of the foundation were in the midst of planning the second golf outing, Chris’ sister, Alexandria “Ali” Heart Gregory, died at age 34 from an undiagnosed heart condition.

“Timmy and Ali were great people, family-oriented and friend-driven,” said Chris. “And they were friends with one another.”

Social butterflies Timothy Robert Roland and Alexandria “Ali” Heart Gregory are remembered through a foundation managed by their friends and family.

Considering their friendship and the friendship between their families, Shawn and Chris felt it was appropriate to honor Ali’s memory through the foundation, too.

The Timothy Robert Roland Memorial Foundation became the Timothy Heart Foundation, and the golf outing continued as its main fundraiser.

“It just became something where it was the best way to bring the people that were already close even closer together and do what Timmy and Ali would like us to do rather than sulk in the sadness,” said Chris.

Timmy and Ali were not just connected by the friends and community they shared, they were social butterflies, beloved by many. Their high character and good nature are remembered fondly.

Timmy attended Kent State for his undergraduate degree and had just finished classes at the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Although law school kept him busy, Shawn said Timmy always made time to lend an understanding ear, give a helping hand or even just share a good time with a friend or family member.

Ali worked as a radiology technician at the Cleveland Clinic for 13 years. Described by her brother as a “straight shooter,” friends and family could always rely on Ali to be straightforward and honest.

The fond memories of both Timmy and Ali, along with their unique character, is recognized daily through the work of the Timothy Heart Foundation.

In addition to offering scholarships – this year the foundation gave out four scholarships, for a total of $6,000 – each of the executive board members is allotted $1,000 every year to donate to the charity of their choice.

The board includes Shawn, president; Chris, treasurer; Jennifer Rowland, vice president; Adam Hodge, secretary; and Scott MacWhinnie, former secretary and current member. Timmy’s mother, Donna Koterba, and Ali’s mother, Sandy Gregory, are also involved.

Donna Koterba (l) mother of Timothy “Timmy” Roland, and Sandy Gregory, mother of Alexandria “Ali” Gregory, help their sons operate a foundation in honor of Timmy and Ali, Twinsburg friends who died in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

“All of the people on our executive board were born and raised in Twinsburg, Ohio,” said Shawn. “We all graduated from high school there and our roots go deep in the city. My brother Timothy and Chris’s sister Ali were both also Twinsburg residents who graduated from Twinsburg High School.”

That is reflected in the causes of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Together they have donated to everything from local sports teams, to a Macedonia cancer patient’s lemonade stand to a women’s shelter. Anything that Timmy and Ali would’ve supported is a fair candidate for a donation.

This year, Chris plans to approach the city of Twinsburg in hopes of finding a space where they can plant trees and buy a bench for Timmy and Ali. It would be an environmentally friendly donation that gives hikers a peaceful place to rest.

Shawn added they hope to continue to give out more scholarships as well, with the goal of covering a student’s entire college career one day.

“We don’t really have an end in sight. We just want to keep growing and keep doing all we can for the community,” he said.

With that in mind, the board is preparing for the fourth annual Timothy Heart Memorial Golf Outing, at Gleneagles Golf Club on Sept. 28. The event will include golf, dinner, auctions, hole challenges, raffles and a 50/50. Individuals interested in attending can contact Shawn at 330-350-1509 or visit Timothy Heart Foundation on Facebook and inquire.

Another successful event will help the foundation further its mission.

“We don’t take a dime from this foundation; no one gets paid. Our only goal in raising money is giving it back. The more we can make the more we can give out,” said Shawn. “When people donate to us, the money goes exactly where it’s supposed to go, and we just want to do more and more and more.”

Featured image photo caption: Twinsburg natives Shawn Roland (l) and Chris Gregory host an annual golf outing to raise money for the Timothy Heart Foundation, a nonprofit in memory of Roland’s brother, Timothy Robert Roland, and Gregory’s sister, Alexandria “Ali” Heart Gregory. Photo courtesy of Shawn Roland