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Friday, August 26, 2011

PARTY FOR A CURE - Telethon changes, but local MDA ‘party’ goes on

As published in the Record Journal Friday August 26, 2011

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

Fast facts
What :
“Party For A Cure” for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Where : Zandri’s Stillwood Inn, 1074 S. Colony Road.
When : 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4.

Cost :
$50 donation to MDA.
Information, tickets, donations :
Call Zandri’s at (203) 269-6695.

WALLINGFORD — Fifteen years ago, representatives of the Muscular Dystrophy Association came into Jim Zandri’s office looking for a donation, and left with much more. “MDA kind of became my thing,” Zandri said. “They were just asking for a donation, but I volunteered to host an event.”

Zandri’s Stillwood Inn, 1074 S. Colony Road, is hosting its 15th annual “Party for a Cure” fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 5:30 p.m. For a $50 donation, guests can enjoy an open bar, a buffet-style diner, entertainment and a silent auction.

The party will last until midnight and feature live cut-ins on WTIC-TV. The restaurant will be showing the telethon on a big screen TV, and those in attendance will have a chance to watch themselves on camera.

“The cut-ins are always a lot of fun,” Zandri said.

Zandri’s event is one of two MDA telethon parties being held in the state. The other event is being hosted at Mohegan Sun.

Zandri said he became involved with the MDA because he was always a big fan of Jerry Lewis, the comedian who hosted the telethon from its inception through last year. The MDA announced several weeks ago that he would no longer be part of the telethon.

John Sullivan, a town councilor and friend of Zandri’s, has been a regular at the event and helped co-host it over the years.

“It’s an incredible charity,” Sullivan said. “And the money raised stays in Connecticut.”

Over the years, Zandri said, $309,000 has been raised. Last year’s event alone raised $41,000. Much of the money comes from a silent auction of items donated by area businesses.

“This year we have a scooter, a recliner, Yankees tickets, Red Sox tickets,” Zandri said. One of the most popular items every year is a handmade afghan knitted by Joan Parisi, the wife of Town Council Chairman Robert Parisi, he said.

“There’s something for everyone,” Zandri said.

This is the first year the telethon will be held without Lewis — and strictly in prime time instead of spread over 22 hours — but Zandri said he doesn’t foresee that hurting the event. The most rewarding part, he said, is helping those in need.

“It makes you realize that you could be on the end where you’re in need of help,” Zandri said.

“Until you learn, you don’t realize how many different diseases fall under the umbrella of MDA,” Sullivan said. “Research to find a cure can’t be done without these events. I look forward to it every year.”

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