FALMOUTH- Growing up on Cape Cod, I’ve certainly been no stranger to Dino’s Sports Bar in Mashpee. Known for their delicious pizza, great music and lively atmosphere (including an AWESOME patio in the summertime), it came to me as no surprise when Mary Ann Singersen, President of the ALS Family Charitable Foundation, told me how Dino himself made sure they had the perfect location for their “Life’s A Beach” fundraiser.
“I came up with this years ago, I actually wanted to do a winter beach fundraiser ON the beach,” she explained of how her Caribbean-themed vision came to be. “But the expense of that was too much.” With the weather being 38 degrees the night of the annual bash, that would have certainly been while beautiful, a bit chilly. Yet inside Dino’s Sports Bar that Saturday night in Mashpee, nothing could have felt more like summer. Tropical drinks, leis nearly everywhere, straw “cabana” style tables, and a summer bbq-style buffet line inspired nearly every guest in the room to dress appropriately. The dance floor was truly a sea of Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses, and Lilly Pulitzer dresses as partygoers danced the night away to the sound of The Baha Brothers. It’s events like these that help the ALS Family Foundation continue their work of supporting local families as they fight their battle with ALS. “We’ve been doing this for 19 years, and helping families all along the way,” says Mary Ann. “We do things like we have a vacation fund, so we send families what often times is their last vacation together,” she explains, including how for one patient, the fund was flexible enough with each individual family’s needs to be used for a daughter to fly to visit her father who is currently battling with ALS since he is not able to travel to see her.
Focusing on the specific needs of the entire family is something that holds the utmost importance to Mary Ann. “We have a scholarship fund so we help kids of ALS families go off to college, we have a children’s program where we send out gift cards for Christmas time and for back to school shopping.” Why focus on the children, you might ask? “This is a very, very expensive disease. So the kids, many times, their needs tend to fall through the cracks a bit. We pay for summer camps, we pay for dance camps..we even have a respite program that gives the caregivers a chance to breathe,” explaining that at times the strain of ALS can be similarly hard on the caregiver as it can be for the patient. With the “Getaway For A Day” program, the foundation brings in a respite worker for a day so a caregiver can go to the spa for the day-all expenses paid.
I spoke with one local family, the Lawrences, who now attend every event they can to give back to the very foundation that once helped them in their great time of need. “The money doesn’t just go to research. It goes back to the families,” says Zach Lawrence. “They have hospital furniture lease programs if you need a wheelchair or a shower chair,” he explains. As a child, Zach Lawrence and his brothers were the recipients of several donations from the foundation including Celtics tickets, gift cards, and other experiences their mother Ann says helped them to have a sense of normalcy through what otherwise was a challenging time for the family. “When my husband was first diagnosed with ALS, friends of us found this little gem for us,” she explains.
Sadly, Ann’s husband passed away three years into his battle. Yet throughout the fight, the family was grateful for opportunities provided to them through the ALS Family Foundation that helped them through.”When they were younger they got to go to the Celtics game, they got to be regular children. When there wasn’t a normalcy in the family, that was a day for them to be normal children. So it was very beneficial for them to be around other children going through the same thing,” says Ann, as her family now continues on to help others.
Nights out like these are proof that giving back to others doesn’t have to be tiring or expensive. In fact, it can just plain be fun! For just $30 at the door (at a place where let’s face it, you would TOTALLY spend $30 on pizza and your beverage of choice anyways), you not only had access to their buffet, but also a conga line, limbo contest, and the chance to win raffle prizes like Stephen Gilmore & James White shirts or a Samsung Galaxy tablet, or a YellowTail cooler & beach umbrella.
Want to get involved in their next event? See what it’s like inside ALS Family Foundation Fundraisers in my vlog below, and check out their website https://alsfamily.org/ to get into their next event early!