Category Archives: Topplers News

2013 Domino Award Presentation at University of Colorado

Topplers founder Herb Morreale (L) discusses meeting Richard Stallman with 2013 Domino Award winner and CU freshman Alex Tsankov (R).

Topplers founder Herb Morreale (L) discusses meeting Richard Stallman with 2013 Domino Award winner and CU freshman Alex Tsankov (R).

Topplers was excited to award the 2013 Domino Award to Alex Tsankov, a freshman in the Computer Sciences Department at University of Colorado Boulder (CU). Alex’s essay on Richard Stallman’s lasting influence on computing was selected to receive a $500 scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to experience innovations in technology first-hand.

Topplers would like to thank our sponsors for generously supporting the Domino Award:  Adeptive Software, Applied Trust, ClickBank, and Gold Systems. Our sponsors are essential to helping keep the Domino Award going every year and we are grateful for their continued support.


Posted in Topplers Domino Award, Topplers News.

Topplers Awards 3 Book Scholarships at MESA High School

Topplers was proud to present 3 book scholarships to graduating seniors at MESA High School in Thornton, Colorado. The winning essays were given $350 book scholarships which were awarded at an assembly of their peers a few weeks before graduation. Chris Westfall, the Topplers board president, spoke about domino theory and the difference that all the students can make in the world by setting big things in motion.

Seniors Raquel Lane, Chim Lee, and Alicia Ruiz submitted outstanding essays (respectively) about how Tiananmen Square’s Tank Man, the Adams County Youth Council, and the power of a Smile are all small things that can and have made a big difference on the world.

We wish these three winners and all of the graduates the best of luck in their future studies.

Chim Lee (l) is presented with a book scholarship by Chris Westfall (r ) at MESA High School

Chim Lee (l) is presented with a book scholarship by Chris Westfall (r ) at MESA High School

Alicia Ruiz (l) speaks with Chris Westfall (r ) about receiving a Topplers book scholarship

Alicia Ruiz (l) speaks with Chris Westfall (r ) about receiving a Topplers book scholarship

Posted in Higher Achievement, Topplers News.

Topplers’ Annual Report

2012 Annual ReportThe last year has seen some exciting developments for Topplers. The generosity of the donations we have received has helped set in motion some significant impacts in the programs, or Branches, we support.

Topplers has gone from being a visionary idea for “setting big things in motion,” to an impactful set of tools, programmatic support and fiscal backing – helping in the creation and expansion of Branches, which are making meaningful impacts in the communities they serve. In addition, this past year has been one of great planning and preparation to take Topplers to the next stage of growth.

Check out the Toppers’ 2012 Annual Report to find out more on what we have been working on.


Posted in Topplers News.

How will Topplers support young cancer patients?

As Topplers and our supporters started looking at how we might be able to use Topplers to help support young cancer patients during their treatment and recovery, we kept thinking about Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Alex was a 4-year old cancer patient who opened a lemonade stand to raise money for other kids with cancer. Her inspirational story led to a flood of donations, and the creation of a foundation in her name.

Like Alex, many young patients are looking for a way to help give back to the people and communities that have supported them and their families through their treatment and recovery process. But being confined to a hospital room can make connecting difficult.

With the help of the staff who work with the children and their families, Topplers will be launching a pilot program in early 2013. Patients who participate will start by selecting their own big idea and by telling us their story and why this cause is important to them.  We will then add their branch to the Topplers website and community page, and provide dominoes that the patient will hand out to family, friends and supporters.  Topplers will help promote the new branch, provide support, guidance and tips to ensure that every patient is successful in achieving their goal.

We believe this program will make a big difference in the lives of kids, and their families, who face some really serious challenges.  We think the program can be a valuable therapeutic tool, helping patients stay connected with people outside the hospital, giving them a chance to direct their aspirations and goals in a creative way.

Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.

The Birth of a New Branch

Making a Difference teen

Making a Difference is the newest Topplers Branch. In the works since early 2012, we’re excited to let you know what we’ve been doing to get this Branch up and running. But first, how we got started…
Donna, a pediatric oncology nurse, noticed that her young patients were spending long stretches of time at the hospital during their treatments and recovery time. The nature of the treatments, leaves them confined to their beds and weakens their immune systems, so they don’t get to leave the hospital. She started thinking about how these patients could pass the time, focusing their energy in a positive way, while staying connected to their friends and communities.

A cancer diagnosis is, as you can imagine, overwhelming for a young person and their family. the first weeks and months are spent processing loads of information from their caregivers and communications from foundations and nonprofits that want to support them through the treatment process. They are supported by their doctors, nurses, hospital psychologists, volunteers, entertainers visiting the hospital, family, and friends. And as the initial shock of the diagnosis wears off, and their new lives in treatment become routine, many are looking for a way to give back to those that are helping them out.

Helping others while confined to a hospital is difficult, but the modern technology that helps us stay connected offers up great possibilities. Topplers’ Making a Difference program will be providing the tools and the support to help these extraordinary young people to take their big ideas, launch them, and help them grow.

Stay tuned for how we plan to do this.

Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.

The 2012 Domino Award Trip Experience

A Visit to High Tech Mecca

As part of the Domino Award, recipients are taken on a trip to see technological innovation first-hand. This year we took 2012 winner, John Lenz, and 2011’s winners, Valerie Chang and Ian Smith on a two day whirlwind tour in the San Francisco Bay Area. 2010 Domino Award winner, Katie Corner joined us, as she now call the Bay Area home, and helped to arrange our lodging and schedules for the trip. We had a slightly ominous start with a 1.5 hr. flight delay, then a bit of a fiasco with Hertz, resulting in missing our meeting with Chase McMichael, President and CEO of  InfiniGraph.

Our first stop kicked things off with a bang when we met with Silicon Valley Veteran, Bill Coleman.  Bill, your sage advice will ring in our ears for years.  We were honored that you fit us into your busy schedule.

Next, we were off to Twilio where we got a behind-the-scenes look at one of the hottest companies in the Bay Area.  Bixby & Kyle, thanks for the great demo, tour, and our first bounty of t-shirts.

We wrapped up the day at Dropbox.  Of course, in standard Bay Area style, we had dinner at the office (for me, prime rib, yes please).   I’ve been around a lot of “cool” tech companies over the years and I have to say that I (along with everyone else) was pretty blown away by Dropbox’s offices.  Matt, thanks for staying late, and sharing your story of how one thing led to another with you joining Dropbox.

The next day we had the pleasure of watching one of the space shuttles make it’s final flight. It was off schedule, throwing off our schedule, but none of us will ever forget the sight.  What a way to start the day!

Our time was short at Facebook, but we had the opportunity to get a feel for the work environment and how they approach recruiting.  Adam, thanks for showing us around, and telling those Instagram guys that we plan to pull up a chair in their “garage” next time we’re around.

Next was a sushi lunch at Google (what else would you expect).  Thanks to Paul, Max, Amer, and Nick for giving us a comprehensive view of life at Google.  I’m not sure any of us could exactly put into words our feelings about Google, but as Katie pointed out (and we all agreed) “it’s like going to geek Disneyland.”

Saturday we had a perfectly beautiful day touring the sites of San Francisco with my friend Ben Runyan.  Over lunch in China Town, Ben educated us about Xylinx’s latest programmable ICs and their use in the broadcast industry.  Ben, thanks for taking time out of your weekend to show us around.

Truly, this was a trip that all of us will never forget.  Thanks to everyone for hosting us, Katie for making all of the arrangements, and to the generous sponsors who made the trip possible.

Posted in Topplers Domino Award, Topplers News.

Inspiration, Education, and Motivation in Action

Chris Stampeders presentation

Topplers’ Chris Westfall presents to the CU Stampeders

Congratulations to University of Colorado incoming freshmen—especially those who are already stepping it up with participation in the Stampede Leadership Program! Good luck to you as you start your first semester. This is your launch pad—so get involved, lead, and make a difference!

FYI for friends of Topplers, we delivered the keynote at the Stampede kick-off yesterday at CU and all 250 enthusiastic participants left with a domino and a dose of some inspiration, education and motivation.

We drew special attention to three remarkable people in the CU community — Professor Tin Tin Su (cancer drug screening innovation),Emma Coburn (Olympian and USA/NCAA champ in steeple chase) and David Rahmani (physics student and extraordinary teaching assistant).

Check out the presentation here – maybe you’ll get your own dose of inspiration, education and motivation.

Posted in Higher Achievement, Topplers News.

Topplers’ Mid-Year Update

HA 2012 graduates partyThanks in large part to your support, and the support of our many friends and sponsors, the first 6 months of 2012 have been just fantastic, which is why we want to share this update with you.

In terms of the projects we’re currently supporting, we’ve made substantive progress:

Higher Achievement: Supporting college graduations for students that wouldn’t otherwise.

We saw the graduation of the seniors we’ve been mentoring at MESA High School—100% participating in the mentoring program (about 65 students), and 100% being accepted into colleges and universities. Our support—in the form of mentoring, and guest speakers primarily—helped inspire and arm these first generation college students with a range of skills and knowledge to now be successful in their freshman years.  We now are turning our attention to building a support infrastructure on our Community Site to ensure that each student’s first year is a success, and that we lay the groundwork to ensure they persist and achieve their goals through graduation.

Random Kindness: The name says it all.

The “Treehouse at the J” afterschool program at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, CA has been busy using dominoes as a way to increase and acknowledge random kindness between the children in the program. Teacher Thomas Schultz started with this post on “I was given this domino as a way to spread kindness. We spoke to our students about what to look for and how to spread this joy around. I cannot wait for the moment I see one of our kids do something nice simply because they want to, because they have that instinct inside them to help others. I can’t wait to read all the stories that will be connected to this domino!!” Each week a different child is given one of the classroom dominoes by his or her peers for doing something kind in the classroom. The teachers help the children log their activities onto Examples of kind acts that have earned children a domino include helping a friend clean up after a juice spill and getting an ice pack for a friend with an “ouchie”.

Domino Award: Inspiring college students to think big.

The 2012 winner of the Domino Award was University of Colorado student John Lenz for his paper on The Innovator, Alan Kay. Awarded annually to students within the Computer Sciences program of CU, the Domino Award is presented to the student(s) who best capture the role of Domino Theory in historic developments within the Computer Sciences industry.

John wins $500 and a place on the award winners’ trip to a place of technological interest—intended to exemplify innovation and real-world examples of Domino Theory at work. John will join the 2011 winners (Valerie Chang and Ian Smith) for a Topplers’ hosted Silicon Valley tour during September, which we expect will include visits to Google and Facebook.

Our focus for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 will be focused on extending the Domino Award to computer sciences programs within other universities, as well as to other programs within the University of Colorado.

Mobilize the Troops: Creating an emergency response capability with the Boy Scouts of America.

We’ve been making steady progress in helping to connect the Boy Scouts with community first responders.  In January, Topplers’ Board Member David Schroeder joined the Denver Area Council (40,000 Scouts) – Emergency Response Committee and is working with the team to advance this project.  With the a big shout out to Ray Thompson (former Topplers’ Board Member, a valued friend of Topplers, and VisionLink exec team) for his help, we’ve begun the conversation around leveraging a web-based platform to catalog the capabilities of the Boy Scouts in a system that will link the Boy Scouts into first responder organizations.  There has also been great movement in Houston (about 70,000 Scouts), where a preliminary program has been rolled out to identify high performing troops as mobilization contacts.

Our new website launched, making it easier for participants in the various projects we support to track their impact, inspire other volunteers, and collaborate on each unique community project.

Lastly we want to let you know that we’ve made some substantive additions to our Board of Directors, which is adding expertise that will help us better serve.  Stephanie Levin, with her deep background in NPO and program management, brings a wealth of non-profit experience to Topplers and extends our Board to San Francisco where she lives; and Justin Rosenthal, from Boulder, CO, with his digital marketing strategy and analytics expertise, will help us guide Topplers’ online presence.

Thanks for being a friend of Topplers, and special thanks to our corporate sponsors and supporters.

Adeptive –

Applied Trust –

Clickbank –

Esther Hartley –

Infinite Editions –

Oak at Fourteenth –

Ellucian –

University of Colorado –

Posted in Topplers News.

It’s Time to Track You Impact

After a long, long, LONG wait, we are pleased to announce that Topplers has opened the doors to our new website.  You can now order Dominos, claim Dominos that you receive from others, share stories to inspire others to get involved, and track your Dominos as they travel.

Here’s how it works…

  • If you already have a Domino: start by claiming it.  You can do that right on the home page. Povapesoufork .  When you claim it, share your story of how the Domino came into your possesion.  You will then see the Domino listed in “My Dominos” (when you are logged in).
  • If you don’t have a Domino, find the “Add Dominos” buttons throughout the site.  All it takes is a small donation, and then we’ll ship your Dominos to your address.  By the time they arrive they will be listed in “My Dominos” next time you login.

Once you have a Domino registered in the website, perform an action to help the Topple grow, write a journal entry about the experience, and pass the Domino to the next person.

In addition to the Home Site, we have the Topplers Community.  In the Community you can learn more about each Branch of the Topple by visiting one of the Branch Groups.  

We have many new features planned in the coming months. We appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to watching your Dominos topple.

Posted in Topplers News.

Domino Award Trip: Spaceport America

In November of 2010 Topplers sponsored a trip to Spaceport America in New Mexico for that years Domino Award winners.  The video can be found on YouTube.

Posted in Topplers Domino Award, Topplers News.