Photos by Rick Daugherty
Last year, Slice of Hope raised a little over $100,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity that takes your tax-deductible donations and uses them to fund the most promising research on the disease that exists today. The initiative was so successful that we’re doing it once again this month in celebration of National Pizza Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On Tuesday, October 9 a team of Pizza Today cyclists will depart Lakeland, Florida, for a 250-mile bike ride designed to bring awareness to the cause. The bikers will ride 60 miles per day for four consecutive days, stopping each night to take part in fundraising pizza parties. Last year, more than 200 pizzerias pledged to support Slice of Hope by donating a percentage of their sales on National Pizza Day. Many of the pizzerias that did take part wrote or called us afterwards to tell us just how successful the event had been for them. It seems the Slice of Hope push not only united pizzerias to fight a just cause, but it also established participating pizzerias as community stewards that could be counted on to support their customers through thick and thin. Shari Buccilli, owner of Buccilli’s Pizza in Clare, Michigan, says: [Slice of Hope was a great success] here at my restaurant. We had been advertising for roughly three weeks and the turnout that our community showed was tremendous! On behalf of my employees and myself, I want to say thank you ... for coming up with this wonderful idea. We had a great time and our community here in Clare, Michigan, showed how supportive they are by making
Slice of Hope a success. Once again, thank you and we look forward to doing it again!”
Vincent Caltagirone, owner of Golden Crust Pizza in Pennsylvania, says that “We had a great night despite a power outage for about an hour. We managed to raise over $500 towards this deadly disease through our participation in Slice of Hope. The servers worked very hard ot help raise the money for this event. We even had a few of our customers make personal donations — and on top of that we all had fun doing it for the Foundation and Pizza Today!”
For at least one operator, Slice of Hope hit close to home. “One of our employees, Marie, was diagnosed with breast cancer several months ago,” says Tony Mellencamp, owner of East of Chicago Pizza Company in Berne, Indiana. “We gave part of our earnings on October 7, 2011 to her for medical bills. She and her family helped wait tables that night and also raised funds in a tip jar. Marie wore her headscarf, as she has lost her hair due to chemo. But she and her family maintain a strong dignity as they fight against her cancer. Marie was right there, working alongside everyone else. “Thanks to Slice of Hope for bringing awareness to this dreaded disease. Hopefully with help like your campaign from Pizza Today, a cure can be found for breast cancer.”
Unfortunately, we later found out that Marie did not survive her battle with breast cancer. Thankfully, the sister of Randy Henson, a pizzeria owner from Huntsville, Ohio, has survived. “Just wanted to pass along our thanks for sponsoring this event,” Henson wrote in an e-mail to Pizza Today editor-in-chief Jeremy White. “We here at LaPizzeria Restaurant are happy to say that we were able to raise approximately $1,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. My lead waitress, who is also my sister, is a breast cancer survivor of two years.”
Stories like Henson’s have poured in ever since we first announced Slice of Hope in 2011. And they’ve motivated people like Kelly Musico, co-owner of Aldo’s Ristorante in Naples, Florida, to take action. Musico is hosting the “grand finale” Slice of Hope party after the cyclists pull into her pizzeria on
October 12. The cyclists, who will receive a police escort for the last 20 miles, will be greeted at Aldo’s by a local high school marching band and cheerleaders.
“Last year, when I heard about Slice of Hope, I immediately wanted to participate,” says Musico. “We pledged to donate 30 percent of our sales from the day. As the event neared, my staff and customers wanted to participate, too. People were donating restaurant gift certificates, golf packages, wine packages, hotel stays, gym memberships, spa packages — the list goes on. We went all-out and decorated the restaurant pink and put together some beautiful baskets to auction off. We sold raffle tickets and raised even more money. It was so rewarding to have the community come together. I am so honored to be hosting the national event in Naples this year.”
Following Musico’s lead is simple. Start by visiting PizzaToday.com and clicking on the Slice of Hope tab. Order t-shirts, make a direct gift to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation or pledge a percentage of October 12 sales to the Foundation through Slice of Hope. Even if you can’t take part by throwing your own fundraising party on October 12 or can’t give a portion of sales from that particular day, the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation can take your donations year-round. Show your support by visiting EndThisDisease.org and clicking on the “Donate” button.
The goal is not only to fight an invasive disease, but to do so together as one united industry comprised of caring and giving independent pizza parlors. Pizza Today believes our segment is the most community-minded of all foodservice sectors! Let’s rally together this month to prove it.
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