Melrose Weekly News - May 4, 2007

Young entrepreneur heading to Washington
Ashley D'Orlando to lobby for CFS funding

by Liz Jennings


Straight A student and sixth grader Ashley D'Orlando zipped through her computer class assignment with ease.  Learning the basics for most students may be challenging, but not for Ashley.


She recalled on that particular day she humbly approached her teacher to let her know she wasn't be challenged, telling her "I have my own Web site", and casually handing her a business card.


D'Orlando is only 12 years old and has a business that has taken flight.  D'Orlando started an on-line business called Slamdunks Apparel.  Slamdunks sells fun T-shirts with funny quotes and cool designs.  Her designs are featured on T-shirts, baby onesies, golf shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, mugs, magnets, bumper stickers and more.


She started Slamdunks as a way to promote awareness for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and to raise money for research.  D'Orlando's "Auntie Pam" - Pam Gobiel - has been living with CFS for six years.


"I want to do whatever I can to help find a cure", she said.


D'Orlando also explained that she's always been interested in starting her own business.  In the beginning, she was thinking babysitting or dog walking, but her parents were naturally concerned that she would have to advertise personal information on flyers and the like.  So Slamdunks was born instead.


When Ashley started out, she pictured her business being small and local.  Today she is doing business all over the world.  In the beginning she was donating 10 percent of her profits to the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) Association of America; now she has been donating around 20 percent of her profit, twice a month.


D'Orlando even captured the attention of Kim McCleary, president and CEO of the CFIDS Association of America.  Ashley's Aunt Pam and her husband Marc were granted an advocate's scholarship to attend the five-day International Association for CFS conference in FL, and Ashley has recently been invited to Capitol Hill.


D'Orlando will be heading down to Washington, D.C. next Friday to attend "Lobby Day", which will take place on Tuesday,May 15.  Next week is also CFS Awareness week.  Along with her aunt Pam, she will be given the opportunity to go before members of Congress, as well as state senators and legislators, to talk about CFS.


Ashley and her aunt are hoping to continue to spread awareness and talk personally about their struggle and how it has affected their lives.  They are also hoping to get more funding for CFS research in the hopes of some day finding a cure.


According to Gobiel, CFS is extremely underfunded and the seriousness of this illness is widely understated.


For more information about Slamdunks, visit