Figured you should get the many faces of Julian straight outta the gate...
It's been a pretty amazing 10 days.
Julian was born
Ali started school, and Ang was home in time to see her off on her first day
My music therapy program received another large investment in pilot funding
P.U.C.K. received a $5,000 luncheon as a gift
For giving up my birthday, friends and family donated $645.39 to P.U.C.K.
I got to see my mom for a week
P.U.C.K. was mentioned in our local newspaper
Ali and Ang baked me the chocolatiest chocolate cake EVER
Now, September begins. September promises to be as eventful as the past 10 days. Life is good.
I have to tell you about last night, though.
Several months ago, an email landed in my inbox from our dear friend Sara Cooper (always at the heart of it all, that Sara). It was a link to a story about a local restauranteur who is also a huge philanthropist. He was going to give away 12 luncheons at his restaurant / banquet facility in 2012 to 12 local charities. Charities had to write an application letter explaining who they are, what they do, and who they serve, and the 12 winners would be announced at a cocktail reception at the restaurant on - of all days - August 31.
Ang mentioned, "Hey, doesn't hurt to at least apply." That seemed fair enough, so I put together a one page letter with photos and simply told our and P.U.C.K.'s stories and submitted it by the deadline. I received a confirmation that we were in the running for one of the 12 spots, but we had to be present to win (life lesson here - half the battle is simply showing up). So, last night, after having a yummy early dinner and cake, I took my mom to the Anaheim White House for this reception.
Ali was NOT pleased with me. She looked up at me with a broken look, "Daddy? Why do you have to go? Please don't go, daddy! Please?"
That was a d-r-a-g.
Nevertheless, off we went.
The event was pandemonium. 232 charities applied for these 12 luncheons, and by the looks of it, just about all were in attendance! It was a mad house. Given that each entrant was allowed to bring a guest, there were well over 400 people crammed in the front lawn and "West Wing Banquet Hall" in the front lawn of this old house-turned-top tier restaurant.
Let me tell you briefly about the owner of this restaurant. His name is Bruno Serato. Each night for the past 6 years, Bruno has fed pasta to roughly 350 homeless kids a night in Anaheim. To date, he has personally fed over a quarter of a million meals to kids in need. CNN listed him as one of the Top 20 Heroes in the World in 2011. The only Italian to make the list, he is regarded a national hero back home where he was born. Click here to read CNN's story on him.
Before announcing the winners, Bruno mentioned that after reading all the letters, he couldn't pick just 12. So, he decided, instead of once a month, this offer would be once a week. For 50 weeks in 2012, he was going to give away a luncheon every single Wednesday except for the 2 weeks at Christmas. The luncheons are worth $5,295 each.
Folks, that's over $250,000 worth of luncheons. Then, he mentioned that only 50 didn't cover all the charities he wanted to help, so he repeated the offer for 2013... he'd give away 50 luncheons in 2013... then he did it again for 2014... THEN he did it again for 2015. NOT 12 luncheons... 200. That is over a million dollars worth of food, beverage and rental he will give away over the next 4 years.
That, my friends, took generosity into a completely new realm for me, and I'm sure for every single person in attendance last night. By doing what he did, he SCHOOLED all of us watching, hereby challenging our own generosity. He simply said, "My GM thinks I'm crazy, my assistant thinks I'm crazy, but I know God will take care of me."
Out of the 232 charities, that applied, P.U.C.K. was announced as the SECOND recipient of this award. I just happened to be standing right in front of Bruno with my mom when he started his speech, and so there I was, point blank front and center to see and hear him read off, "and the second luncheon, January 11, 2012, goes to Pioneering Unique Cures for Kids."
I took the two steps forward with my hand over my mouth, and took into my possession a personalized folder with everything we needed to know. I then turned around, hugged my mom, and started crying.
The photographer at the event caught the whole thing on camera, and sent me the pics today!
What a birthday present!
Now, who knows if being called out second has any real relevance to anything, but it sure felt pretty dramatic. Most importantly, we have been given an absolute GIFT to help us 1) continue to raise money for Dr. Wagner and Dr. Tolar in Minnesota, and 2) have a really nice event in Orange County at one of the most upscale restaurants in the OC to expand our exposure out here. The challenge? The event is in 4 months! Ack! We have some work to do! LOL.
I'll take this kind of work any day. We get to work hard for EB kids, and be the recipient of charity for charity from a man who has dedicated his life to children as well. We are blessed to be in his company.
Thank you all again for your ongoing support of my family as we ride this roller coaster of life. You have given so much to us and our cause. We are all doing this together. We are curing EB together. We are providing hope together. We are healing our grief together. We are learning life's lessons together. We are a community. Who knows how or why we all got here, but here we are. As a group, united through technology, we are building, not destroying. We are loving, not hating. We are nurturing, not hurting. We are a force for good, all of us. Thank you - each and every one of you - for being a part of this journey. It simply wouldn't be the same without you.