With the growth of TBOX, Christopher Festa, Founder of Festa Parties, wanted to use this opportunity to formally partner with a local charity and help give to the Chicagoland community. Festa was a Bronze Sponsor of the CHICAGO Dance Marathon in 2011, and then a Silver Sponsor in 2012 and 2013. The CHICAGO Dance Marathon is a 13.1 hour charity event during which participants can dance and hear the inspiring stories of patient families from the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, a new state-of-the-
Over the years, Festa Parties and volunteers from the CHICAGO Dance Marathon have worked together in spreading the word of this charity. CDM volunteers have served as hosts at several Festa events including TBOX and BeadQuest, where they’ve distributed literature and stickers to the crowd to raise awareness for the benefit. “It has been wonderful working with the people from the CHICAGO Dance Marathon over the past 3 years”, said Christopher Festa, “The CDM people immediately ‘got’ the idea of TBOX and they have many of the type of young, fun, ‘wire to wire’ demographic we attract to our events. TBOX just so happens to also start at 8AM, and also go over 13 hours, so it really seemed fated for our two events to work together!”
This year, the Festa CDM team totalled 15, more than doubling their 2011-2012 participation. The enthusiastic group danced, participated in trivia and other games, as well as interacted with families and children throughout the day. For team member Jessica Harrison, a returning participant, dancing really touched home. She shared, “Last year was my first year. I did it as a way to give back to the community. This past year, my nephew had to go to the hospital to have surgery, so I now have a personal connection to the hospital, which makes this event even more special.” Cindy Studebaker took a bus six hours from Michigan to be on the Festa Parties team. Studebaker commented, “Charity work has always been rewarding to me and I wanted to help out the children and support the Festa Parties team. Seeing these families make me very thankful that I have a healthy child and didn’t have to face the issues that these families face.”
During the event, families shared their stories of how the Hospital has helped them. In addition, each participating team was assigned a child to dance for during the day. At a designated time, the team members had the opportunity to spend some personal time with the child and family. The Festa Parties team was able to spend time with the Harlow family, and their daughter Harlow. Harlow was diagnosed with a brain tumor in her abdomen when she was only four months old. After speaking with several doctors, the Page family was referred to the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The medical staff was able to help save Harlow’s life. Jamie Page, Harlow’s mother, expressed her gratitude, “Lurie Children's is an amazing resource for the children of the Chicago area and because of them our daughter Harlow has a bright future ahead of her. Lurie not only treated Harlow's cancer but they also took care of our family. The doctor's and nurses became a second family to us during Harlow's treatment. They made us active participants in her care and were willing and able to do anything they could to make sure that they were not just treating her cancer but also trying to keep her childhood as normal as possible while going through such a hard time. The staff at Lurie were not just her doctor's and nurse's, but our friends and confidants in a time when we really needed support. There was a time where we thought Harlow may not make it to her first birthday but we're now approaching her fifth and I truly don't know if that would have been possible with any other hospital. We could not be more grateful to all that the Hospital has done for our family.” For Festa team participant Christina Miller, stories like Harlow’s is why she dances year after year, “It is such an inspiration to listen to the family stories and feed off their positive attitude.”
The Festa Parties team won the prize for Top Fundraising Team, with a total of $26,623.61 and counting. These funds will cover several large expenses such as an infant warming bed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and one year of Caring Touch, a hands-on therapy intervention offered to children in palliative care to reduce their level of distress, tension and discomfort. Festa Parties plans to continue supporting this great cause for many years to come.
Festa Parties has been continuously contributing to other worthy charitable causes in the Chicago community, including Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Lakeview Pantry and School Street Playlot. In addition to cash and food donations, they have also donated thousands of dollars in clothing in partnership with Festa’s other company, Great To Be Here T-Shirts. “It’s very satisfying in our business to be able to add value not only for our customers, but by contributing to good causes as well that can really use and appreciate our help.”
Festa Parties will continue producing popular events like TBOX, BeadQuest, and Cover Your Bases and contribute to community organizations. Festa’s upcoming events include its Cereal Donation Party at Irish Oak on Thursday, March 7th, benefiting Lakeview Pantry, and the next pub crawl, Cover Your Bases 2013, the 5th Annual Baseball-Themed event on April 27th, 2013 in Wrigleyville.