Every year the Epstein Family hosts a Pancakes for Parkinson's event on behalf of Team Fox. This year they teamed up with other families and raised over $54,000! We caught up with the Epsteins to find out what makes their event such a success.
TF: What made you decide to do a Team Fox pancakes event?
EF: We decided to do a Team Fox event because six years ago when our oldest daughter, Sydney, was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah, she wanted to do a meaningful Bat Mitzvah project.
For us (and her) it was a natural fit. As her paternal grandfather suffers from PD.
TF: How many years have you been doing it?
EF: We have hosted six PFP's.
TF: Tell us a little more about your event.
EF: One of the nice things about our PFP, other than raising money for a cause we care tremendously about, is that it has become a really nice community event. People tell us they look forward to attending! From the first year we held it people were happy to attend a fundraiser that they could bring their children to and that didn't cost $100 or more to get into. We charge $15 at the door and by holding a raffle, people have another opportunity to spend (donate) as much as they want to when they purchase raffle tickets. Along with a raffle, we have a magician, face painting, cupcake decorating (for $5), t-shirt design contests and a DJ. We try to create an atmosphere that appeals to everybody.
Our event is held in a local centrally located venue. We started at the party room in the firehouse and have graduated (due to an ever increasing turnout ) to a grand ballroom in a local synagogue. We have been very fortunate because both organizations graciously donated the space to us. When we started at the firehouse, we would go around to all the local stores and ask for donations to supply the food and supplies that we needed. Asking people for donations is always challenging. It always helps to be passionate about the cause you are asking them to support and to mention that you will hang up a sign that announces that they helped to sponsor the event.
Now, we are fortunate enough to have one major sponsor, Joel Katz, owner of Prestige Caterers. Joel donates the venue, food and staff. Ironically 3 years, after Joel graciously offered to help us, he was diagnosed with PD. Now the event has become even more meaningful for all of us. A local florist always donates centerpieces and balloons that make the room look festive.
TF: Who makes the best pancakes in your family?
EF: We have always had a "professional" doing the flipping for us. Because we don't have to prepare any of the food, it allows everyone in the family to do a different job at the event. These jobs include: working the door, judging/running a contest, selling raffle tickets, overseeing different stations and just making sure that we do as much thanking and socializing as possible.
TF: What’s the best part about planning a Team Fox event? The hardest?
EF: The hardest part of hosting a fundraiser is asking people for donations. We are aware that people are constantly asked to make donations to many great causes and organizations. I think part of the success of our Pancake fundraiser is that you can walk in the door for just $15. So many fundraisers are very costly to attend. We also send out a letter to all of our friends, family and business associates. This helps us to get many large donations from people who cannot attend the event. It's very important to reach out to as many people as possible. Let them know how important the cause is to you and constantly send out reminders stating the date of the event.
When talking to people wether it's a store owner you want a prize from or a potential guest, let them know how PD personally affects your family and how great Team Fox is. I have found that People like to feel connected to the cause they are donating to. It can also be challenging to acquire really good raffle prizes. Over the years we have really focused on making our raffle something that people look forward to. This past year we raffled off a large screen TV and fabulous sports memorabilia just to name a few.
Two years ago, two families I know well from our community reached out to me and told me they loved what we were doing and asked if they could be a part of it. Unfortunately, they too now had a parent with PD. It has been great to partner with these families. The more people we reach out to the better. Our turnout this year was fantastic. It also helped in getting more raffle prizes. We all reach out to the stores and services that we go to.
The easiest part of hosting our PFP is to get the positive feedback and to see the generosity from our community. It feels good to be able to raise money for an amazing organization like the Michael J Fox Foundation. Each year we become more competitive and try to beat the last year by $15,000.