While riding next to a breaching humpback or getting close enough to almost touch a pod of dolphins is enough of a reason to book a whale watching tour, Domenic Biagini is giving one more.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, Biagini is donating all the proceeds from his Gone Whale Watching trips to cancer research after watching his father-in-law Percy Veloro battle non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Veloro was diagnosed in April 2017 at 49 years old after his family noticed he was having constant nosebleeds.
“He was just a prime example of how this disease doesn't discriminate,” said Biagini. “It can literally happen to anybody. He was an avid cyclist, loves long-distance bike rides, eats an extremely healthy diet, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t even drink socially — he just lived the ideal healthy lifestyle.”
After his diagnosis, Biagini said Veloro was resilient and continued to work as a high-level accountant for Pechanga Arena San Diego all through his treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation and even a bone marrow transplant.
Sadly, Veloro died Sept. 14. To honor his father-in-law’s memory, Biagini said he wanted to use his platform to remind people that this disease effects families all over the world and every penny raised to fight it counts.
“He always was fighting,” Biagini said of his father-in-law. “He’s an unbelievable example to value your life in whatever form it’s in. You just have to try to make the most of it. He and my mother-in-law were absolute superheroes through this whole process.”
Their efforts are what have inspired Biagini — who’s often referred to as Capt. Dom — to use his business to give back. Since he started Gone Whale Watching last month, he says he’s been running whale watching trips every single day.
“I never would have expected that was possible,” he said. “Seeing that there’s that big of an appetite [for whale watching] in the San Diego area, I wanted to see if I could use that to not only give people an incentive to go whale watching but also know that the money you’re spending is going towards a really good cause.
“It’s an added bonus, really.”
Biagini said he usually takes about five people out per trip, but he plans on “filling the boat” as much as possible for the Sept. 28 donation day. The morning trips are full, but he currently has space for some trips in the afternoon he hopes to completely book. He’ll take whatever money raised that day and donate it the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
And after he posted about his charity event on Instagram to his 28,000-plus followers, he realized how many people are.
“One of the families that booked one of our morning trips said, ‘I’m a 16-year non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor,’” he said. “To think that one of these nameless faces who follow me [on Instagram] are going through the same thing my family’s going through, I just want them to know that they all matter.
“Together, the more everyone is willing to do, the better chance we have to keep families together.”
For more information about Gone Whale Watching and to book a trip, visit gonewhalewatching.com. Those who do want to donate their trips to cancer research should select the “whale watching for cancer research” option from the product list.