2011 October: My Turn

Surely by now you’ve heard of the pizza industry charitable event, Slice of Hope, which has been organized by Pizza Today. When Jeremy White, the editor of this magazine, called me about the idea a year ago, I was on board from the start. The thought of bringing the entire industry together and pointing every pizzeria in the U.S. in the same direction was an alluring and powerful one. I knew that my company, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, had to be a part of it.

The restaurant industry has a track record of giving. After September 11, 2001, the entire industry mobilized and raised over $20 million in one day! After Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and tsunami in Japan, millions more were raised. While disaster relief and disease prevention are two different things, the point is that our industry has often rallied around great causes.

I can think of no more compelling cause than the fight against breast cancer. Did you know that 70 percent of women who are diagnosed have no family history of the disease? For many, imagine the initial shock of diagnosis and the emotional, not to mention physical, impact of treatments on the entire family.

In the past year, this disease hit close to home for me when my best friend’s wife became one its latest victims. I remember how beautiful Karen Mullen was; how much she loved her family. I also recall her love of gardening and traveling and spending time with friends and her dogs. She played a wonderful supporting role to her son, Grant, and her husband, Garrett. In fact, she always put them first. I can only imagine what it’s like for them to continue on without her.

The Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation was formed earlier this year. Its mission is to fund potentially lifesaving treatments at America’s leading breast cancer research labs. It will take 100 percent of the Slice of Hope money it receives and use it to back the most promising studies on a national level. These studies will ultimately lead to treatments that will be offered in your own community.

The loss of my friend, Karen Mullen, is why I’m asking you to join me and other pizzeria operators in North America by participating in Slice of Hope on October 7th. Whatever you can donate, please do.

And let’s not overlook the community marketing benefits that come with participation, either. I have found time and again that the neighborhoods in which Tutta Bella operates rally behind us because they see us taking an active and socially responsible role in our community. The goodwill you can generate by taking part in Slice of Hope is substantial.

There are roughly 70,000 pizzerias in this country. Surely we can step up for a cause that impacts one in eight women right here in America, can’t we? Together, we can make strides that will one day help end the pain and suffering and prevent this tragedy from impacting other families. And we can do it in a way that brings positive attention to our great industry and shows the nation just how giving and caring we are every single day.

If you’re reading this after October 7, don’t worry. It’s not too late to help! The Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation can still take your donation through Slice of Hope all the way through the end of the year. And your help is easy to give: Simply visit PizzaToday.com and click on the Slice of Hope icon to download a donation form. Let’s help end this disease!

My Turn is a monthly guest column. This installment is written by Joe Fugere, founder of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria in Seattle, Washington. If you are interested in submitting your own column, e-mail Jeremy White [jwhite@pizzatoday.com] and let him know what you want to say and what qualifies you to say it.

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