(N)Eddie: The Story Behind The Name
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
An Interview with CEO & Founder, Laura Cancel
Every name holds a story.
For individuals, names encompass a life, accomplishments, kin. For organizations, names represent missions and values, and the products produced by these.
NEDDIE is a story about Nonprofits, but it is also a story about Eddie, the larger than life figure at the heart of Laura Cancel’s inspirational purpose. Without the early lessons provided by this important role model, NEDDIE would not exist. “Eduardo was my uncle through marriage to my aunt Zaira,” Laura says. Only a few years older than Laura, he was an entrepreneur who introduced Laura to the possibilities provided by a big dream and a lot of hard work.
“He was the first one to give me a real job.” This was at a hotel in Puerto Rico that Uncle Eddie bought and restored with the help of Laura and her siblings. “I was mixing concrete to fill potholes in the parking lot. I was painting the windows, helping in any way possible.” Hearing Laura tell this story, you get the sense that this is a family unafraid of challenges. They do whatever is needed to get the job done. The hotel opened to great success and Laura would pay for her college studies using the money earned there.
With a successful business and a growing family, Eddie had achieved his life’s dreams. Zaira had given birth to their two sons two years before the hotel opened, and now they joyously welcomed another baby girl. The family brimmed with optimism about the future. They could not have foreseen then how life blesses you with gifts one moment and in the next challenges your spirit with heartache and loss.
What soon began to emerge was that both of Eduardo and Zaira’s sons were on the autism spectrum. One would be diagnosed with severe autism and the other with moderate autism. Laura recounts, “The hotel was no longer the priority, his children were"
Because Puerto Rico did not provide the support needed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Eddie sold the hotel and moved to Texas in the hopes of providing a better future for his children. As Laura says, “He left the dream and started over again.” Working as a restaurant manager, he was eventually able to bring his family over to join him. By this time, their daughter, Laura’s goddaughter, would also be diagnosed with ASD.
“It was a lot of stress. My aunt couldn’t work because of the kids. So, Eddie was working a lot — days, nights, weekends. And he also had the stress of helping his family.” But ever the entrepreneur, he called Laura one day in November 2009, with the idea of opening a restaurant in Austin together. “I will never forget that conversation.” He was full of excitement at the prospect of launching another business with Laura.
Three weeks later, Uncle Eddie passed away from a heart attack at the age of 36.
“I always said, if I ever have a business, I will honor him. He was to me, the person most full of commitment, full of ideas, and full of life. He was such a hard worker and an amazing father. To this day, my family and I still talk about him all the time. He’s still so alive and I want his name and the power behind it to continue living on.”
The name NEDDIE was conceived from Laura’s passion to help others through Nonprofits (N), and from the person who inspired her to achieve anything she strives for, her uncle Eddie.
NEDDIE is about collaboration and entrepreneurship, of positive change and social impact. But it is also about the spirit of generosity, of dreaming big, and going for broke even when the odds are against you. It is about optimism in the face of hardship and about remaining steadfast to the values and goals that elevate you and all those around you.
As NEDDIE prepares for its launch, much excitement is building around the platform, tools, and technology on offer. But we here at NEDDIE want to recognize the legacy of our name. NEDDIE is a testament to the spirit of entrepreneurship, to the merits of hard work and positivity, to rising above hardships and learning from them so that we can teach and affect others. NEDDIE is for Nonprofits, whose tireless efforts represent the best intentions of our society.
Our name inspires our mission to impart positive change for everyone.
If you want to get involved with nonprofit organizations that support individuals and families with children in the Autism Spectrum, consider one of these organizations:
https://www.globalautismproject.org/ - An advocacy organization for autism around the world.
https://www.ncsautism.org/- This group was started by parents to address the needs of individuals severely impacted with autism and those with extreme behavioral challenges.
http://www.autismsocietyofwa.org/- A chapter of Autism Society of America. Improving the lives of all affected by autism for over 50 years.
https://autisticadvocacy.org/- The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for people with autism.