Tag Archives: fundraiser

Something To Believe In

I’m somewhat at a loss for words…

Last week brought about many different reasons for hope and opportunity.  On Tuesday, I was scrolling though my inbox and saw an email from my doctor.  Under normal circumstances, I probably would have taken the contents of that message as bad news.  However, as I began reading the message, I realized that I went from feeling nervous and timid to shocked; my body rendered momentarily unconscious.

Before I head out the door for work, I like to spend some time watching the morning news to get me up-to-speed on everything I need to know for the day ahead.  What I find is that 99.9% of the news is full of sad, depressing stories.  And when I am on social media, I find that I have further found myself surrounded by news not for the faint of heart.

The email that I refer to contained news, but this news was different. It gave me a renewed sense of hope and acted as  a much-needed reminder of all the good and kindness in the world.

So I’m just going to cut to the chase: in that email from my doctor, I learned that through the Denver Foundation, a gift of $53,000 was made to The Cusano Family Fund for Brain Tumor Research!

Cusano Family Brain Tumor Fund - LogoAfter composing myself, collecting my thoughts and having my excitement under momentary control, I sent an immediate email back to my doctor:  Who did this?  Why was my fund chosen?  How did they know of my fund?  There were a litany of questions that I dying to ask.

During a call with my surgeon the next day, I learned that the Denver Foundation first inquired about my fund in late 2015.  Similar to a bank, a donor deposits money into an account managed by the Denver Foundation.  Once the donor decides on a cause, a directive is made to cut a check to the designated fund.  Unlike a grant that I applied for, this was a gift – a completely unexpected, selfless gift that I will be forever grateful for.

Unfortunately, the answer to all of my questions remain unanswered.  I can only guess that the person responsible follows my story.  So to the mystery person that made this donation – I hope you are reading – words alone cannot express my gratitude.  Your generosity and desire to help me in this fight is beyond appreciated, and while I know that I can never repay you, please know that I will do everything in my power to help the Yale Brain Tumor Center put this money to the best use possible in finding the cure for and treating benign and malignant brain tumors.  My fight will continue on for as long as I am able and until the cure is found – I hope.

In a world where we hear a lot of sad and depressing news, isn’t it refreshing and joyous to know that good truly exists?  For me, this is an easy question to answer.

To the generous donor – I will be indebted to you always and words will never be enough.

Turn the Record On, It’s Time For Something

Yes, I know I haven’t updated you on Playing for the Cure: Brainstormin’, but I needed some time.  Time to relax and recover.  Time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and allow for donations continue to come in supporting this cause.  Time to finalize the details for the Path of Hope, a 5K Journey to Benefit the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance and enjoy in its success.  But also time to reflect on life and the fortunes I’ve been blessed with.

Let’s start with the concert.  If you were to ask me to summarize it in one word, I’d say “exhilarating”.

For those of you who attended and/or contributed, thank you!  I am elated to announce that, through our joint efforts with our sponsors and everyone who donated and came out to celebrate the night, we have surpassed last year’s donation for The Cusano Family Brain Tumor Fund at the Yale Brain Tumor Center.   I am saving announcing the grand total until we have presented the check to Yale, but we are all very excited!  This money will go towards research (such as developing a virus that is injected into the brain to kill the cancer cells without harming the brain), clinical trials, DSC_0627 less invasive methods to treat the tumor, and beyond.

It was a night full of hope and inspiration.  We had terrific bands.  There was a raffle with amazing prizes donated from local businesses, family and friends.  I had the opportunity to meet the mother of a brain cancer patient with whom I connected previously on social media and was inspired by her words and drive to fight.  A fellow brain tumor patient, Aisha Khan, also from North Haven, came to show her support of the cause and is an avid fan of Broca’s Area.  Prior to the concert, my parents’ neighbor let them know he was unable to attend this year, but wished to purchase raffle tickets and instructed them that if he won, to have me donate his prize to a brain tumor patient or survivor.  When my parents arrived at the venue that night and told me this, I got goosebumps and felt proud knowing that we’re making a difference.  Sure enough, about halfway through the raffle, a ticket was pulled and I leaned toward the microphone and announced that the winner of this item was donating his winnings and I selected Aisha as the beneficiary of a $100 gift card donated by the Max Restaurant Group.

It’s the small things like this act of kindness that make the work and effort worth it all.

But it was also a night where I stood in the back of the room and took it all in.  I admired the hard work of my family and friends.  Watching in awe as something terrible has transpired into something so grand.  Along with my surgeon, we stood there and listened toDSC_0631 Goodnight Blue Moon.  With the first note the group sang, their vocal harmonies captured us all and their music was thoroughly enjoyed.  The band brought their merchandise to sell and graciously split their profit with The Cusano Family Brain Tumor Fund.  I purchased both CDs and have been listening to each nonstop.  “Thank you” Goodnight Blue Moon, hopefully you’ll be up for playing at next year’s show!  And a huge thank you to DSC_0633Broca’s Area for your continued support of this cause.  If you have not yet heard them play, I strongly encourage you to take a look at their schedule and catch them in an area near you.

Yet, in the midst of writing this post, the brain tumor community lost yet another truly remarkable, inspirational and brave individual to this awful disease.  Candice and I met via social media a couple of years ago and have connected at various CTBTA events.  She was a huge supporter of this concert and I.  Always with a smile on her face, she triumphantly marched on.  Sadly, last week, Candice lost her battle to brain cancer, but she lives on in my memory as an inspiration and another reason that I continue to fight on and organize this concert.

I am hopeful that next year, this concert will be even bigger and better, and I look forward to seeing new faces that I’ve never met before to connect and be a source of hope and inspiration.  And I would love for you to be the same for me.

With A Little Help From My Friends

This entry was written by my father, Tony Cusano:

I remember the day we got the news like yesterday – the cause of the mysterious double vision would finally be known.  The phone rang and it was the call we had waited three long days for:

“Hi, Dr. Spector would like you to come in this afternoon – your results are in.”

As we were driving to his office, I did not have a good feeling.  The unknown was killing me and we needed an answer.   We walked right into his office and Dr. Spector did not pull any punches.

I heard the words that he was saying to Chris and I was hoping that it was a dream:  “Your MRI shows a massive tumor in the center of your brain.  Your brain has been pushed aside and your optic nerve is being crushed, thus the reason for your double vision.  You also have hydrocephalus, and quite honestly, I do not know how you are functioning.  I have already contacted the chief of neurosurgery at Yale and he and his doctors will be waiting for you when you arrive.”

I could not speak, there was no saliva in my mouth.  I felt my heart was racing and my legs suddenly felt very unstable.  I hugged Chris and we both cried but immediately, we went on the offensive.  After enduring the mysterious double vision and headaches, we now knew what we were fighting and I honestly believed that he was going to be alright.  The battle was excruciating, full of ups and downs with many more unknowns, and it will continue throughout Chris’ life.

I tell you this piece of the story again because my family and I have now chosen to continue to fight the war on brain tumors and brain cancer.  It is the reason that we now do these fundraisers.  If I can alleviate the pain that some other parent and child may have to go through by the efforts of these fundraisers, then all of this work is well worth it.

I have a new found respect for fundraisers and directors of corporate relations because fundraising is not an easy task.  No matter how noble the cause is asking for donations, raffle gifts, favors or attending an event, it is never easy.   We are all so busy with our own schedules and we all have our causes that we want to support.

But our cause is true in spirit.  We know the pain of this disease, and what it can do to the individual and the family.  One hundred percent of the money raised is donated to the Yale Brain Tumor Center where the money is used to promote better brain tumor treatment options and support clinical and laboratory research to find a cure for brain tumors.  It is nice to know where the money is going and what the doctors are doing with it in their efforts to learn about the tumors and stop the disease from affecting families like ours.

We are so close to our goal for this years event.  I thank all of our family, friends and business organizations who have donated this year and in the past, but additional support would go a long way in assisting now and in the future.   If you can make a donation, if you can donate a raffle gift, but most importantly if you can attend the concert on September 19th, we would greatly appreciate it.TCFBT flyer size

 

It’s The Final Countdown

Playing for the Cure, Brainstormin’ is well underway!  We are less than 100 days away, and the excitement is building.  The bands and venue are booked, the date and time are confirmed, letters have been sent out and sponsorships are continuing to roll in.  A huge thanks so far to our corporate sponsors including the Hartford Courant, Carla’s Pasta, Stop & Shop, Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, ShelfSpace Marketing, LLC, Edge Technologies and the UNITAS Club of Hamden – just to name a few.  With all the support, we hope and expect to be able to surpass the $10,100 that we donated last year.  Even though the event is fast approaching, there is still time if you wish to support the cause.  And if you cannot attend, we have set up a site where you can make a donation.  http://www.youcaring.com/yale-brain-tumor-center-381093

The lineup of musical acts features Goodnight Blue Moon and Broca’s Area.  When we approached Goodnight Blue Moon, a successful bluegrass-meets-indie rock band, they eagerly jumped at the opportunity.   The band’s drummer, Nick D’Errico, is a longtime friend of mine and has shown my family and I a great deal of support since 2008.  He was also Stephen’s first drum teacher and an inspiration for him to study music and start Broca’s Area.   I am personally thrilled and honored to welcome Nick and Goodnight Blue Moon on the 19th and I hope that their fans in attendance will be inspired by our efforts with Yale and that this will be the start of a new long-lasting venture with the band.

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Left to right: Mike Carabello, Mary Corso, Stephen Cusano, Ghazi Omair, and Leo Catricala (Broca’s Area)

The second act is Stephen’s band, Broca’s Area.  On June 17th, the Connecticut Music Awards were held at Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in Hartford.  With their infectious soul/hip-hop tracks, Broca’s Area  took home the awards for ‘Best New Band’ and ‘Best R&B/Soul/Funk’.  I know that I speak on behalf of Stephen and the band when I say thank you to everyone who voted for them.  The band members are beyond excited by their wins and have since been asked to headline a show at Infinity Music Hall.   If you attended last year’s show, you’ll know how talented they are and after another year of playing together, they continue to gel.

If Broca’s Area’s Connecticut Music Awards wins weren’t enough to make a big brother beam, I continue to be so proud and impressed by their commitment to the brain tumor community.

So please, SAVE THE DATE!  Come watch two fantastic bands and support this great cause on September 19, 2015 at 6:30p.m. at the Outer Space Ballroom in Hamden, CT.  Together, we can and will find the cure to brain tumors and brain cancer.