Cameron Mitchell on Giving Back

From the July/August 2013 issue of Capital Style
  • Photo courtesy Cameron Mitchell

Central Ohio restaurateur Cameron Mitchell and his wife, Molly, are chairing the second annual Komen Columbus Pink Tie Ball Sept. 7 in The Ivory Room at Miranova. As they prepare for the event, we talked with Mr. Mitchell about the art of philanthropy.

How long has giving back been part of your business plan?

From the very beginning. I really come from nothing. I started with nothing, so if you get in a position you can actually give, it makes it easier. My guys always laugh when we travel around the country that you could make a living being a homeless guy walking around in front of me.

How do you choose to whom you give?

We as people, I think, have a responsibility to give to Children’s Hospital—take care of our kids, make it better for our kids. And to fight cancer. And so everything else from there is optional.

You have good friends who have battled and are battling breast cancer, so the cause is personal. Why is fighting it with Komen important?

It’s just everywhere. It also affects kids. You’re talking about kids losing their mom. It’s collateral damage. You’re talking about keeping families intact. And there’s not much stronger reason to fight something.

You’ve also long supported another women-centric cause—March of Dimes. Why?

One of our kids spent seven days in the NICU when he was born. [Doctors saved his life.] From what we understand, that was directly from March of Dimes research. It’s through personal experience we relate to parents we don’t know.

You say standing at the entrance to Nationwide Children’s Hospital affects you—that it makes you want to help every parent walking in. Now, beyond giving to the hospital, you’re helping Ronald McDonald House, too. What are you doing there?

They needed help redesigning the dining room and the kitchen, so we’re helping them do that. Parents find themselves there for a year sometimes. It’s incredible hardships they go through, and Ronald McDonald House helps ease that burden, so we got really excited to get involved with them.

You say giving makes you realize what you’re doing here, in a big-picture sense, yes?

You know in your heart you can’t change the world, per se. But you can make impacts and at least change your corner of the world, and that feels good.

You defer credit, though, to the folks at these myriad organizations who work tirelessly for their causes.

You look at every great charity, and it has people behind it who are just all in. I don’t have a whole lot of time. And I really don’t have talent. (laughs) So the only thing left (to give) is treasure.

What do you hope your three children learn from watching you give?

I don’t really care what they do in their lives as long as they can find their passion and be good people.

Pink Tie Ball tickets start at $250 at