Pasta for Parkinson
September 10, 2013 - Shortly after my 40th birthday, I started having symptoms I suspected could be Parkinson’s, but being a neuro nurse for fifteen years, I talked myself out of it and was convinced my symptoms would go away. By age 44, my daughter put words to my fears when she noticed significant tremors in my right hand.
Several years passed and in 2004, my oldest daughter Jennifer, who was living in Brooklyn at the time, participated in her first Unity Walk. She called me after the Walk, describing the atmosphere as electric and very exciting. In 2007, I formed a team called Moon ‘n Stars and along with family and friends, participated in my first Walk, which was amazing and uplifting. The team name Moon ‘n Stars has a special place in my heart. Every night when I put my young children to bed, we went through the same ritual. One of them would start with, “I love you” and the next would say “I love you more than the moon”, followed by “I love you more than the moon and stars”. This would continue until all of them had recited the ritual. In 2007, my children made t-shirts with the Moon ’n Stars design on the shirt and we’ve worn them every year we’ve attended the Walk. My daughters have continued to participate in the Unity Walk in New York, raising money to help cure Parkinson’s disease.
This past spring, I attempted to get a group to go to New York for the Unity Walk. When that didn't happen, I decided to "bring the Walk home." Pasta for Parkinson’s was born and our goal was to sell 500 tickets. I wanted a fundraiser that was easy, fun and would bring people together for a great cause. We had one month to pull together this event and primarily relied on word of mouth - twenty people committed to selling 25 tickets each. I also needed a restaurant with great food and that part was easy. Station Square is one of the best restaurants in Youngstown, OH and the owner, Ottavio Musumeci is an exceptional chef, offering five different types of authentic pasta and sauces. Half the cost of the ticket went to the restaurant to cover expenses and the other half was donated to the Unity Walk. I formed a committee of friends and family who would have gone to New York with me in April. My sister ordered numbered tickets advertising the event, my daughter Allison set up a program on excel to track sales. Sponsors who were also friends in the community approached us wanting to support the fundraiser and their donations more than paid for our expenses. We got a write up in the local newspaper and an interview on a local television station prior to the fundraiser. Another interview with a local TV station took place at the restaurant the day of the event.
On event day, committee members greeted guests as they arrived at the restaurant. Ottavio, the restaurant owner could not have been more accommodating. We had $5,000 in corporate sponsors, over $1000 in personal donations, and in total, raised just under $12,000. Ottavio took care of the rest. His staff seated the guests, set up the food stations, and cleared the tables. The food was awesome and plentiful. Over 500 people attended the fundraiser, including walk-ins that did not purchase tickets in advance, and we did not have to deal with one problem because of the advance planning we had done.
The day of the dinner, I met many people who were there because they or a loved one were afflicted with Parkinson’s. Some had not been to a restaurant in a long time because they were too embarrassed to eat in public, but they felt comfortable coming out for this fundraiser. Reaching out to each other that day gave us all hope, support and encouragement. That was my biggest success. I reached the Moon ‘n the Stars that day and I am currently planning next year’s fundraiser!
Team Captain, Team Moon ‘n Stars