Photo: Connor and Maggie LaGrange

Nuptials, Nature, and Navigating Life's Adventures

Posted on July 28, 2021 by Connor LaGrange, TPF Fellow 2021/23

Editor's Note: The Patterson Foundation, in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, has selected Connor LaGrange to become its next fellow. This is the third year of the Fellows Program — a year-long opportunity for aspiring philanthropists to gain experience and learn innovative philanthropic principles while contributing to initiatives that strengthen people, organizations, and communities.


What do wedding bands, tropical storms, and exploded engines all have in common? Each was a guest star in the comedy/drama film of our trip from Indianapolis to Sarasota.

Let's take a step back to see the full context of what happened between IND and SRQ.

Spring and summer was filled to the brim with joyous occasions. I accepted a fellowship at The Patterson Foundation -- one of the most innovative foundations, graduated from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy master's program with flying colors, and to top it all off, I married my best friend, Maggie, on July 3rd.

Two days after our wedding, Maggie and I packed up the cars and headed down to Sarasota, Florida, to start our new adventure. The journey was filled with many epic moments, including driving straight through tropical storm Elsa, having our car explode (full engine replacement needed) only twenty minutes from our apartment, and the debacle of not receiving our U-Haul pods. We were quickly thrust into a state of chaos and found ourselves attempting to cope as best we knew how.

When hardships strike us (and we have all encountered hardships in the last eighteen months), we are faced with a decision of how we will respond to our surroundings. The Patterson Foundation (TPF) uses a great model – cope, adapt, innovate – that shows the natural responses to the ever-changing moments in our lives.

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Maggie and I found ourselves on the side of the road in the humid Florida air standing on a fire ant hill (certainly a sight to behold). We were absolutely in a state of coping with the intense circumstances. But what made our trip worth the adventure was when we both decided to adapt. We made new friends (if you need a tow truck driver, Robert was great), found great ice-cream shops (Jenni's at UTC is a must), and found ourselves in a warm and welcoming community.

In my brief interactions with the foundation, it has demonstrated how to move through cope, adapt, innovate. COVID-19 forced many organizations into having to adapt to their new circumstances. TPF has seemingly not just adapted but demonstrated an ability to innovate as TPFers completely revamped programs to be virtual (while still being effective and informational) to continue seeing the Suncoast region thrive.

Not only does TPF demonstrate how we can all become innovative through our trials, but it also encourages people to live by The Five C's — caring, connecting, collaborating, contributing, creating.

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The Five C's give a great model for us to stay grounded and engaged while we navigate the waters of both personal and professional lives.

The Five C's and Cope, Adapt, Innovate are fabulous guideposts for our work. These concepts ask what is possible and attract people to journey alongside TPF who care deeply and believe we can make a difference in our community.

Maybe our crazy circumstances are not a tropical storm, a broken car, or even a global pandemic. But each day, we are faced with whether we will be innovative, whether we will create and collaborate, and decide whether to change the world together.

TPF is full of people who face challenges head-on and continue moving the needle in the right direction. I am honored to become a part of the TPF family and cannot wait for what the next year holds.

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