by Christopher Bredesen
With the holidays upon us, I sit here reflecting on two events I was fortunate to be a part of. The first, a fundraiser at Seaside Lagoon for former NFL player and current LA County Firefighter Eric Stevens, who is battling ALS at the age of 30. The second, a fundraiser for The Rockefeller employee Jorge Perez, who has been diagnosed with stage 3 Lymphoma, at age 57.
Eric recently married his college sweetheart Amanda, and just weeks later was diagnosed with ALS. The average life expectancy for ALS patients is two to five years. Following the diagnosis, donations poured in. Political connections reached out. Small businesses got involved. The love and support this South Bay community gave to Stevens Nation was (and continues to be) nothing short of a miracle.
We expected 1,000 people at the Seaside Lagoon fundraiser. Over 3,500 showed up. The fundraising goal was $50,000. My projections were significantly off, and I think I know why. I forgot to include the South Bay Community Factor. We we raised over $250,000 that day. Since then, his GoFundMe site has raised over $700,000.
Jorge Perez has been with The Rockefeller since the first restaurant’s inception. The native of Sinaloa, Mexico came to the U.S. in 1988. He is a beloved employee who enjoys working, smiling, helping others and spending time with his family.
Rockefeller Director of Operations Robert Mauck proposed a fundraiser to help Jorge with his bills. I projected a few hundred dollars because most donations would come as small bills — a dollar here, a five dollar bill there. Instead, we raised $2,500 for Jorge, with The Rockefeller Gastropubs matching these donations. Again, my projections were significantly off, and again I think I know why. I forgot to include the South Bay Community Factor into the projections.
What a special place we live in, and what special people we all get to live with. When we all decide to get behind a charity, and event, or a cause, no one can stop us.
I also have been proud to find and support PATH, which aims to end homelessness in local communities by building affordable housing, and, more importantly, offering supportive services (job training, mental health treatment, drug treatment, etc.) to get people back on their feet and back to being functioning members of our communities. We have been raising funds each week during our 99 cent Burger Tuesday special at all Rockefeller locations.
Thank you South Bay.
For additional information:
Stevens Nation: StevensNation.com
Jorge Perez: GoFundMe.com/f/jorge123