How Friends Cure CF came about – in Danny Altano’s own words.
July 4th, 1998 – Aptos Creek Park Family Picnic after the world’s shortest parade:
I am with my daughter Marissa, who was then four years old. She says “Dad I’m hungry”, I say “what would you like”, she says “a HOT DOG!” I look around at all the food booths at the event and there is pizza, tacos, egg rolls, beer, cotton candy, but lo and behold, no HOT DOG or for that matter, hamburgers. Fourth of July and no HOT DOGS or BURGERS, for an ex-east coaster like myself, that is a sin against man and nature disturbing the natural laws of the universe like gravity, sunrise and sunset.
The next day, I called The Aptos Chamber of Commerce and asked if I could have a food booth at the following year’s picnic. Being lazy and not very creative, I knew I just set myself up for a lot of hard work or serious failure.
What to do next….
I went and visited the person who always had bailed me out in the past, my 911 friend and PIC (Partner in Crime) Debbie Parsons at the Best Western Seacliff Inn.
I suggested it would be a great idea for the Best Western Seacliff Inn, a local Aptos Resort Hotel, to sponsor my booth as a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis, a disease my oldest daughter, Gianna, was born with. Until that moment, I did not realize what a really great idea I had come up with.
Debbie as always, let me pontificate on how my idea would be a benefit to the hotel. She then agreed, with two stipulations:
- Talk with Frank Giuliani, the owner of the hotel, and get his permission for the Best Western Seacliff Inn to donate time, effort, supplies, and most of all moral support.
- I actually would have to help! My job was to get donations and to organize the event.
Boy was this getting complicated.
Debbie’s team, Nikki, Carrie, Katelyn, Antonio, Miguel, Gustavo and too many more to mention, decided we would sell a combo meal; hot dog, bag of chips and a drink. That grew into a burger combo and a chicken sandwich combo. We borrowed a great BBQ pit from Norm Bei and T.J. Scott.
Next visit ….
Paul and Jim at Seascape Resort donated hot dogs and hamburgers with just one comment … “let us know what else you need!”
And so it goes ….
Bob and Julie from Cafe Sparrow, Todd at Carpo’s, Ted at the Shadowbrook/Crow’s Nest, Pat at the Cafe Rio, all donated to the cause year after year. Glacier Bay gave us a great deal on 1000lbs. of ice delivered to the event first thing in the morning and we were off!
At the end of the day we were able to put the first event on with almost no out of pocket expense. One concept that remains at the core of what we do is to get everything donated so all the money we take in at the event goes to Cystic Fibrosis support.
Almost 100% of proceeds went to Cystic Fibrosis Research Inc., a nonprofit organization in Mountain View, working with U.C.S.F. and the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.
For nine years, we were selling 300 plus hamburgers, 200 hot dogs and 200 chicken sandwiches, we had an ace BBQ team … and a lot of cold beer to keep them fueled. The Seacliff gang did a great job sending out donation letters to raise what was needed. They did all the booth design and Gustavo would build whatever we needed as we grew.
We were consistently raising and donating between $3000 and $5000 a year.
After our 2007, 4th of July BBQ we had our now usual follow up meeting and we finally gave into Debbie Parsons’ idea of changing the event to a dinner/auction to increase our potential fund raising dollar. We need to go big, think bigger was Debbie’ motto!
With heavy hearts, we abandoned the 4th of July picnic at the park, finding out later we upset a few people… (Sorry!) Our new concept is to put on an annual themed dinner with silent and live auctions, a band, bar, and most of all, friends. We decided not to advertise, but to advertise by word of mouth, inviting close friends and family. This gave us our name change to Friends Cure C.F.
In September 2008 we hosted a Benefit for 65 Roses at the Best Western Seacliff Inn with silent and live Auctions and a raffle. We donated more than $20,000 to C.F.R.I. and the event was a miraculous, magical night of fun, great food and wine, lots of laughs, all good friends, sharing lots of love and a feeling of accomplishment.
The Dinner/Auction concept has since raised over $330,000!. Our theme is “SURF’S UP” and is a great time with many friends and loved ones. It has become a reunion of caring people who enjoy contributing to make a difference in a person’s quality of life.
So, all this remains true today, friends asking friends for sponsorship and donations for the auctions. Friends ask friends to attend the event; everyone is invited by a friend. We do not advertise the event because we are limited in how many people we have space for. We are now partnering with our friends at “The Living Breath Foundation” to assist in helping CFers with immediate needs. We hope you can join us!
Some our friends who are our longest suppliers / supporters are: not in any real order:
Bob and Julie – Cafe Sparrow
Ted Burke and Bob Munsey – Shadowbrook/Crow’s Nest
Todd, Indie, and Ralph – Carpo’s
Jim – Seascape Resort
Jean and Chris – C.B.Hannegen’s
Debbie, Frank, Norm, T.J. – Best Western Seacliff Inn
Greg and Maggie – KitchenSpace/ Pixie Deli
Charlie – Seabright Brewery
Scott – Woodstock Pizza
Patrick – California Giant
Gary – Watsonville Coast Produce
Tony – Ledyard’s
Leslie – U.S. Foods
Dean – Glacier Bay Ice
Uncle Nick – he rented a big truck to transport everything each year
Gustavo – Best Western Seacliff Inn
Antonio and Miguel – The chefs at Severino’s Grill
Heidi & Bob – Web site