We often write with a sense of humor at Nona Brooklyn, but some things just aren’t funny AT ALL, like stealing money that’s supposed to help a 5-year-old little boy suffering from cancer. Allison Robicelli of Robicelli’s posted on her tumblr blog today with an important plea for a friend’s child. She explains:
“Mikey has cancer. He was diagnosed with an unidentifiable form that causes tumors to grow on his brain and spine, and although they’ve sent the pathology to everywhere from Memorial Sloan Kettering to Johns Hopkins, no one can figure out what the tumors are, or how to cure them.”
Mikey’s parents have been very involved with St. Baldrick’s, a charity that raises funds for kids with cancer, and the family has been working toward raising $20,000 with the organization, culminating with a head-shaving event near their home in Rockaway in mid-September. But Allison and her husband Matt found out from Mikey’s mom that something insanely despicable had happened to one of their fellow fundraisers. From Mikey’s mom, Christine:
“Natalie, our Hope is in the (h)Air treasurer, was on the other line. Her dad was doing a great thing today. He was standing outside (in Donagan Hills, SI) collecting donations in a jug for our event, he had bags of stuffed animals and was manning a ‘Take a Toy, Make a Donation’ table! The jug was labeled and had Mikey’s picture on it so everyone knew where the money was going.
He went in the backyard to grab something for a minute and as he was coming out a woman in a car was stuffing both the bags of toys and the donation jug in her car! He started running but she pulled away too quickly! Then she had the nerve to not only keep the toys and money, but to throw the jug with Mikey’s picture and story and our event information out the window like it’s garbage.”
Uhhh…WHAT!? Stealing from a kid with cancer? In Allison’s words: “Boundaries, people!!!!” So she jumped on her blog, told Mikey’s family’s story, and promised to help raise money for Mikey and St. Baldrick’s by donating a portion of their sales. Soon after, both Nachos NY and La Newyorkina promised to help raise money, and more help is on the way.
We caught up with Allison Robicelli to talk about Mikey, his family, fundraising, and using her local business to help her community.
How did you get the idea to donate money from your cupcakes to Mikey?
Yesterday while we were at work, Matt saw a post from Mikey’s mom on Facebook about what had happened, so he contacted her to get more details. There was never any planning or discussion about doing a fundraiser — once we heard about what happened it was like we just knew what to do. Things like this, it’s not so much something you choose to do as it is something you’re SUPPOSED to do. We have the reach and the means, so there was never a question.
We know not everyone can whip out their checkbook and make a big donation every time something terrible happens. We wanted to give people a way to get involved by doing something they may have done anyway, or at least provide a way to make a real impact on a local family for less than $4.
Just by sharing Mikey’s story, we all gain a little perspective on the things that are truly important in life. For the poor soul who was so desperate that she stole from a sick child, her priorities are money and things. For our family, for Mikey’s family, and for the many people touched by this, we see our wealth is the love that we share with those around us, and our ability to do good in the world. Mikey is the kind of child that makes all of us richer, regardless if you’ve met him or not.
Where can we buy the cupcakes that will help support Mikey and his family?
Anywhere Robicelli’s cupcakes are sold! Through Friday, we are donating 25 cents from every wholesale cupcake sold, meaning that the more you buy from our retailers, the more you raise. We are also donating 50 cents of every item sold at our DeKalb Market shop, which includes cupcakes, brownies, whoopie pies, stroopwaffels from Good Batch, Liddabit Sweets and more. From now through September 17th (the date of Mikey’s fundraiser), we will be spotlighting one flavor a day that will have 100% of it’s profits going to St. Baldrick’s. We’re also speaking to the other DeKalb merchants on getting them involved as well, and possibly planning a large fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s at DeKalb Market.
You mentioned that Nachos NY and La Newyorkina are going to be raising money also. Has anyone else stepped up?
Whimsy and Spice wanted to, but they are leaving for vacation for three weeks and will be closed, so they’re making a direct donation instead. The White Gown in DUMBO is also helping out by donating a percentage of profits from an upcoming trunk show. We’ve reached out to a lot of friends, and hoping that they’ll all be able to contribute in some small way.
What I’m really hoping for is to raise awareness of St. Baldrick’s, and how we can all do little fundraisers that will make a difference. I’m hoping people will set up bake sales, lemonade stands or online auctions that will help Mikey’s family. Independently we may not all raise a fortune, but when you put all our little actions together, it makes a big difference.
You’ve found a way to use your business for a personal mission. Is that important to you?
Absolutely. We’re a true mom & pop business with two kids, and being friends with Mikey’s family is honestly sometimes painful. You feel extremely guilty knowing your kids are healthy when you see someone going through the hell the Lograno-Weinstein family goes through every day, but so grateful that your children are healthy. Christine (Mikey’s mom) is such an inspiration to Matt and I — if one of our boys were sick, I don’t know what I’d do. Yet she holds her head up every day and just radiates love, always finding the good in situations and making her kids feel like the most loved in the world. Her kids are her full time job, and her husband works two full time jobs to compensate and to ensure they can afford the incredibly expensive treatments Mikey needs.
What we’re doing is nothing — we’re just doing our jobs like we do every day and putting a bit aside for them. That family — they are incredible beyond description.
As for it being a personal mission, we made a vow when we started this business that we would always try to make the decisions we’d want our kids to make if they were in our shoes. Currently we’re on pace to donate over $10,000 worth of baked goods or straight cash this year alone to various charities (Doctors Without Borders, City Harvest, Food Bank, Just Food, Leukemia/Lymphoma and more). We get hundreds of requests every year, and even though we donate a ton, we still feel bad because we can’t afford to say yes to everyone. One day I hope we’ll never have to say no to anyone!
What response have you received from the community so far?
It’s been only a few hours, so it’s way too soon to tell. I can tell you that I have been emailing and Facebook-ing Mikey’s mother all day, and she said that she keeps bursting into tears just seeing people sharing their story and pledging to buy cupcakes or make donations. As amazing as getting money is, people giving you hope and restoring your faith in humanity is just as wonderful.