Ciao Parkinson’s is a group of Team Fox members in Millbrook, NY, who threw their sixth annual Dance for a Cure event on Saturday, February 18. The evening included a catered Italian dinner, live music and dancing, 50 raffle items, and more. The dedicated team of thirteen throws this event each year because each member has a personal connection to Parkinson’s disease.
We caught up with team member Ann Spaeth to get her feedback on this year’s event. Anyone looking for sponsorships and donated items, take note. The Ciao Parkinson’s team is able to keep their overhead costs very low, and Ann shares her secret to how they make this happen.
Team Fox: This was your sixth year throwing the Dance for a Cure event. How has the event grown and/or changed over the years?
Ann Spaeth: Since we became "Ciao" Parkinson's Millbrook we have managed to increase the overall fundraising from around $8,000 to, well, $23,000 this year—thanks to a very generous donation from a local foundation. Because of the venue size we are limited to only 270 guests each year, however, we still continue to up the ante each year. The event has become easier to prepare for each year. We have found that we can count on the same businesses and individuals to support us with the same donations. In fact, they seem to ask us a couple of months before the event if we will be needing the wine, the prizes, the desserts, etc. It's absolutely amazing!
TF: You have an incredible team in place that helps make the event a continued success. How are the duties split up between each team member?
AS: Each team member seems to have some area of expertise so we allow each one of us to just go with that. Some of us are better behind the scenes with the tech part of the preparations, some at acquiring the prizes and table sponsors, some at getting the printed materials done and of course we all pitch in with the set up and clean up. We do work well together as a team. After all we each have a passion and someone we honor personally who has PD.
TF: Between the venue and food to the live band and the raffle items, you have been able to keep your costs way down. How do you go about securing donated items and services?
AS: We have found, since we started our fundraising for The Michael J. Fox Foundation, that there are many people who have some connection to PD. They are always more than willing to help us out. In fact, we have had several people who want to help out with our dance and bike ride (which we held for the first time Sept. 2011 to add even more dollars to our Team Fox fundraising total). Just this past week, my kids were in a store after the dance and met up with someone who attended. The woman was so excited about the evening (her first time there) that she wanted us to contact her when we are ready to prepare for next year's. We have met very few businesses or individuals who were not willing to help us out in some way. What is so amazing is just how incredibly generous they are. We are truly blessed to be living in a community that wants to help out and participate in some way.
TF: What is the most difficult part of throwing this event? What is the easiest?
AS: The most difficult part of throwing the event is having to put people on a waiting list and then having to tell them that we just don't have any more tickets available. We really hate having to do that. The easiest part is knowing that when we come together for our meetings, almost every part of the planning and preparations come together quickly and easily due to the continued support that we can count on from year to year.
TF: Anything else to share?
AS: I guess the one thing that we wrestle with each year is trying to think of a place where we could hold our event and accommodate all of the guests who want to be a part of it. We could, of course, move to a larger venue, but would have to spend way too much of the money raised to pay for it. Right now we all agree that we would rather have what we have and be able to send almost all of the money to MJFF. We would love to have a larger place, however, so we can grow a bit more and be able to say "yes" to everyone who wants to attend.
Team Fox is the grassroots fundraising arm of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). Each year, more than 1,500 Team Fox members worldwide turn their passions and interests into unique fundraising events and athletic feats. Since our inception in 2006, our members have raised an astounding $15 million for Parkinson’s research, helping MJFF achieve its mission to speed new treatments and, ultimately, a cure for Parkinson’s disease.