Superpower on the Side is a new series that features WeWork team members and how they spend their time when they’re not at work.
Peter De Jianne was relaxing on the couch watching Monday Night Football when an idea hit him.
“I realized I could be doing something so much better with my time,” says De Jianne, who’s been an enterprise account manager for WeWork since January.
He was thinking about the work he and his colleagues at his last job had done with pediatric cancer patients. He has competed in the D10 decathlon to raise money for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He’s even been to the hospital to visit some of the young patients and host a mini-decathlon for them.
Remembering the visit made him realize that along with raising money, he could do something else for the kids.
“Most of the kids don’t understand the money,” says De Jianne, who is 28. “I wanted to give them something they’d be able to appreciate, but also something that would raise more money for them.”
De Jianne landed on the idea of writing a children’s book. Instead of watching football, he dedicated 15 to 20 hours a week writing the text, working with an editor, and collaborating with an artist. He found them through an online website for freelancers, so the three have never met in person.
The result was Milo and Shilo’s Big Move, written for kindergarten to fifth graders. It’s about two brothers who move to another planet where they are the only ones who have to wear masks to survive. Why masks? So that young cancer patients can relate to the characters. Wearing masks is an all-too-common reality during their stays in the hospital.
The self-published book is a passion project, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to pediatric cancer. De Jianne says it’s something that strikes very close to home.
“Just this year alone, my aunt, grandmother, and grandfather were affected by cancer,” he says.
Peter is planning book readings at local bookstores and in New York and New Jersey schools to share his book’s message about it being okay to be different.
“This is my way of putting something positive in the world, no matter how many copies I sell,” De Jianne says. “It’s still good energy, no matter how significant.”