Local high school student honors his father’s legacy + creates organization to assist cancer patients

The Cool Cat Club
Founder of the Cool Cat Club Peter Anella with team members Amalia Trujillo, Tanner Gray and Hall Welborn. Photo courtesy of Peter Anella

Most of us spent the long months of quarantine shutdowns and self-isolating binging “Selling Sunset” or searching Pinterest recipes for how to make bread in a mason jar. Peter Anella, however, a high school student at Oak Mountain, and three of his friends were brainstorming a concept to help alleviate the pain, stress, and even financial burden of cancer patients. The Cool Cat Club is making the heavy battle against cancer a little lighter and you can help too.

Inspiring joy with some fabric + motivation

The Cool Cat Club
The Cool Cat Club delivering supplies at Grandview Medical Center. Photo courtesy of Peter Anella

You might’ve seen Peter Anella, the founder of The Cool Cat Club, conceptualizing fresh fashion trends for his Italian-inspired clothing line. Now, he’s using that creative skill set to not only see change but be the driving force behind it.

The four seniors who started the charity, Tanner Gray, Hall Welborn, Peter Anella, and Amalia Trujillo provide compassion carts full of self-designed hats, toboggans, masks, headscarves and snacks to patients receiving chemotherapy treatments. They also offer financial aid to those who are struggling with bills and treatment costs.

“Tanner, Amy, Hall and myself have been friends for a long time. We are a motivated group of people and during the quarantine we came together and this idea became a reality. We sat down at the table and I brought the idea up to them. They were so pumped and supportive, and we haven’t slowed down since.”

Peter Anella, founder of The Cool Cat Club and CEO of Anella III
  • What: Cool Cat Club, a local charity offering comforting products and financial support to those battling cancer in Birmingham
  • Where: Grandview Medical Center
  • Contact: Website | Email | Instagram

Honoring a memory, carrying on a legacy

Pete Anella
“Its Nice to be Nice, and It’s Neat to be Pete” The original Cool Cat—Pete Anella. Photo via The Cool Cat Club

Tanner, Hall, Peter and Amalia have all been affected by cancer in some way. There was never any question that they wanted to help the effects it has on patients, family and friends. Once they began brainstorming it became clear their mission wasn’t to cure the disease but inspire joy throughout the process. Named after Peter’s father, who had the nickname of, “the cool cat” this charity seeks to honor his memory and carry on his legacy of helping others.

Pete Anella was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in 2015. After surgery to remove his left vocal chord, he received the news in 2018 cancer has come back and his lungs were in stage four—the doctors gave him 3-6 months. Despite the prognosis, Peter says he kept a positive attitude as he began treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas. Later, he moved to Grandview Mecial Center. Pete passed way in December of 2019.

“My father was always a giving man and was kind to everyone. We wanted to find a way to keep this alive and carry on his memory and legacy. While my father was in Houston recieving treatment, there was a service where volunteers came around with carts full of hats and scarves. My father told me while he was alive that he loved it, and it really made an impact during his treatment. It gave him a little distraction and put a smile on his face.”

Peter Anella

One delivery down, many more to go

Head wrap offered by The Cool Cat Club
A head wrap offered by the charity—purchase here. Photo via The Cool Cat Club

The team had their grand opening recently at Grandview Medical Center where the doctors repeatedly emphasized how much the products Cool Cat Club provided were needed by patients.

“I really hope that the public sees what we are doing and are inspired to do acts of kindness as well. Going through this process and meeting so many wonderful people has really opened our eyes to the amount of good we can do and how much this program really means to the cancer patients. “

It was shocking to hear that all of the work we had been putting into this is finally paying off. The feeling is indescribable to realize that this organization is really making a difference in these patients’ cancer journey. “

Peter Anella

This is only the beginning

The Cool Cat Club
Photo courtesy of Peter Anella

Although the Cool Cat Club has already made a huge impact in the short time of its conception, the team is mapping out a strategy for how all of Alabama’s youth can be involved. They plan to initiate high school programs where multiple Cool Cat Clubs can exist and organize fundraisers.

As high school seniors, the teens will soon move on to college. Establishing the clubs ensures the Cool Cat Club continues its mission for years to come. They also are looking to expand into more hospitals and reach as many patients as possible

You can be a cool cat too

You Buy, They Give

For every item you purchase The Cool Cat Club will donate an item to a patient. Shop products from the website like the Cool Cat T-shirt, face masks and beanies.

Sponsorships and donations

Volunteer

As soon as the hospital allows the OK for the Cool Cat Club to go inside and hand-deliver the products they will need volunteers to help distribute materials.

“We love for people to get involved and encourage anyone that wants to help to reach out to us on our website the thecoolcatclub.org. So far though, the community has been super supportive and wonderful in the aid of our growth. Birmingham is an amazing city and we are trying to make it even better.”

Peter Anella

Learn more about the Cool Cat Club and get involved by visiting their website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Or email the team at info@thecoolcatclub.org.