Two years ago, Patty Haberstroh was diagnosed with ALS.
She did not take the news lying down.
Neither did her family.
Together they embarked on the #ALSPepperChallenge. Across the country, people — from national celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Dan Le Batard to local ones like the Staples High School principal and first selectman — ate habaneros and jalapeños, raising nearly a million dollars to fight what is also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
In addition, 2 of Patty’s sons — Chuck and Steve — joined the IAmALS advisory board.
This morning, they rose early. With their friends — current and former Westporters Chris Aitkin, Matt Cook, Ben Erwin, Chris Kenyon, Steve O’Dell, Stacy Rosenthal and Raffi Tokatlian — they joined 150 others as IAmALS “took over” nearly a dozen billboards in Times Square.
Steve and Chuck Haberstroh, helping change the world for their mom.
Their messages brought attention to the fight — and spread the message that ALS research can also unlock critical breakthroughs for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
Some of the messages were hopeful. Some were educational. Some were defiant.
All are crucial.
Bad weather kept Patty Haberstroh from attending the Times Square event this morning. Her husband — Parks & Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh — and daughter Kim watched the livestream at home. So did their son Tom, in Charlotte, North Carolina with his family.
When Patty Haberstroh heard that Staples High School graduates Dylan Gleicher and Neil Soni teamed up with 2 Yale University classmates to create Prepared, an app that lets educators respond instantly to an active shooting incident — for example, quickly sending a lockdown notification to an entire school, plus local law enforcement — she was impressed.
But the program specialist in Westport’s Human Services Department was not surprised.
She remembered that a while ago Positive Youth Development — another organization she worked with — needed a website designer. They were low on funds. Member Ellen Gleicher said her son could do it, gratis.
Soon, Dylan created and launched PYD’s great site.
He was in 4th grade at the time.
Dylan Gleicher (2nd from left) created the Prepared app with (from left) Michael Chime, Neal Soni and Daniel James. They won the Miller Prize, a $25,000 in Yale University’s entrepreneurship competition. (Photo/Kerry Long)
It’s been a year since Patty Haberstroh’s family started the Hot Pepper Challenge, to raise funds for ALS. Three months earlier, she’d been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease.
It’s been 3 years since the Frates family first did the Ice Bucket Challenge, for the same important cause.
This morning, Patty — the energetic, creative program specialist in Westport’s Human Services Department — her family, and the Frateses, were in New York. They rang the opening NASDAQ bell, in their continuing efforts to raise both funds and awareness of ALS.
They were joined by Westporter Paul LaHiff and his family. He too has ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Also on hand: ALS Foundation members, and representatives of the company that produces the Radicava drug.
Paul LaHiff (front, left) and Patty Haberstroh (front, right), with families and friends, this morning on the NASDAQ floor.
The ceremony was televised live on CNBC. And in case anyone missed Patty with her pepper shirt — well, look here:
Patty continues to advocate for ALS causes — and treatments. Yesterday, she was interviewed by WSHU. Click here for that inspiring story.
Hot peppers and spicy margaritas are on the menu this Sunday (October 21, 1 to 5 p.m.) at Viva Zapata’s.
That’s not unusual. But the popular Mexican restaurant has added another attraction: 30% of total sales will be donated to the ALS Therapy Development Institute.
It’s Viva’s 2nd annual ALS Pepper Challenge Day. In addition to the drinks (and very hot peppers), participants can buy ALS Pepper Challenge t-shirts, hats and other gear.
You’ll get a chance to greet the Haberstroh family too. They started Pepper Challenge last Christmas on behalf of Patty, the well-known Westporter who is battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
In less than a year the movement has spread around the globe. Kelly Clarkson, Charles Barkley, Garth Brooks and Jimmy Kimmel are among the thousands of people taking the challenge. They’ve raised over $625,000 toward finding a cure.
Now you can help the ALS Pepper Challenge too. It’s no wonder Viva’s is known as one of Westport’s “hottest” restaurants.
(For more information, click here. For sponsorship and donation opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Haberstroh family’s #ALSPepperChallenge has spread all over the country.
But right here in Westport, it’s bearing particular fruit.
The latest group to raise money for research into the devastating disease — in honor of Department of Human Services program specialist Patty Haberstroh — is Wakeman Town Farm.
Challenged by Parks & Rec — whose commission chairman is Patty’s husband, Charlie — Liz Milwe and Christy Colasurdo decided to be creative.
Taking her cue from “Rapper’s Delight,” Christy wrote lyrics. Corey Thomas — WTF’s talented steward — showed his versatility as the rapper.
The video was filmed yesterday at the farm, after their annual team retreat. It’s already been viewed over 450 times on Instagram, and 400 times on Facebook.
Wakeman Town Farm was not the only organization in town taking the hot pepper challenge yesterday. Staples High School’s boys basketball team did the same — and were inspired by a visit from both Patty and Steve Haberstroh, a former Wrecker hoops star (and Patty and Charlie’s son).
Haberstroh noted that Jon Walker — a 1988 Staples grad, and another famed Wrecker basketball player — died last year of ALS.
Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the Staples High School boys basketball team take the #ALSPepperChallenge yesterday.
The Haberstrohs’ challenge has raised nearly $220,000 so far. That includes a $100,000 anonymous donation. Another $250,000 anonymous pledge is expected this week.
(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)
Every holiday season for years, Greens Farms Elementary School students, staff and parents have raised money to purchase gifts and necessities for needy Westport families. One of their major fundraisers is a Walk-a-Thon.
Patty Haberstroh — the Department of Human Services program specialist in charge of the town holiday giving program — has always supported the Walk-a-Thon, and all of GFS’ efforts, fully and enthusiastically.
Each year, she tells the kids how wonderful their contributions are, and how much they’re helping neighbors in need. She inspires everyone, of all ages, to do as much as they could.
Now Patty’s been diagnosed with ALS. And Greens Farms El is supporting her just as energetically as she’s done for them.
The other day, students, teachers, administrators and parents — some of whom no longer have children at the school — came together.
The event was the #ALS Pepper Challenge. Principal Kevin Cazzetta, assistant principal Christopher Breyan, phys. ed teacher Lisa Thomas, music teacher Suzanne Propp and seven parents ate hot peppers — after, of course, soliciting funds to do it. Money raised will benefit ALS research.
In the video below, parent Melissa Levy explains how much Patty means to Greens Farms. Then parent Kathryn St. Andre mentions the song the Walk-a-Thon participants always sing with Ms. Propp: “I Wish.”
The highlight comes at the end of the video. Greens Farms students challenge all the other elementary schools in town — well, the staff and parents there, anyway — to take the ALS challenge in honor of Patty.
(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)
Posted onJanuary 30, 2018|Comments Off on Board Of Ed Takes ALS Hot Pepper Challenge
The other day, Jim Marpe took the ALS Hot Pepper Challenge.
Last night — rising to the 1st selectman’s challenge — it was the Board of Education’s turn.
Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer and the 7 board members each ate a habanero or jalapeño — at the same time pledging money for research into the devastating disease. Challenging others to do so raises even more funds.
Westport has gotten involved thanks to the Haberstroh family. Department of Human Services program specialist Patty Haberstroh was diagnosed with ALS last fall.
Board members challenged an array of prominent Westporters, including Senior Center director Sue Pfister, library director Bill Harmer, the entire Board of Finance — and Grammy/Tony/Emmy-winning songwriter Justin Paul.
Check out the video below. (Spoiler alert: It does not include the money shot — what happened after the educators ate their peppers. Hopefully, a quorum remained to conduct business.)
(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)
Comments Off on Board Of Ed Takes ALS Hot Pepper Challenge
When word got out that Patty Haberstroh’s family was promoting a hot pepper challenge to raise funds for ALS research, some big names responded:
Shaquille O’Neal. Charles Barkley. Domonique Foxworth. Dan Le Batard. The Miami Heat.
Now the popular Department of Human Services’ program specialist’s fellow town employees have done the same.
Yesterday 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Staples principal James D’Amico, assistant principals Jim Farnen and Rich Franzis, and former principal John Dodig gathered at Town Hall. After a bit of banter, they all ate eye-tearing, sinus-clearing, unfathomably hot habaneros.
It was not easy. But they did it for Patty.
And when they were done, they challenged others to do the same.
D’Amico dared the Staples science department (whose chair grows his own peppers). Farnen challenged the Staples athletic department (which includes me, as Staples boys soccer coach — yikes!). Dodig named the guidance department.
Marpe topped them all. He dared the entire Board of Education — and superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer — to eat a habanero or jalapeño.
Videos will be posted soon.
But don’t laugh too hard. We may challenge you next.
(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page. Video by Justin Nadal, Staples High School media lab instructor.)
BONUS VIDEO: Check out this new video. It features plenty of celebrities — and tons of Westporters too. And after you click on — please keep the ALS Pepper Challenge going!
Everyone in Westport knows Patty Haberstroh. The energetic, creative and deeply committed family programs specialist for the town’s Human Services Department ensures that our neediest neighbors get the resources they deserve — and that those of us with the ability to help get a chance to do so.
Patty’s husband Charlie is embedded in town too: He chairs the Parks and Recreation Commission. Patty’s sons starred on Staples High School sports teams, and retain strong ties to their hometown.
So when Patty was diagnosed 3 months ago with ALS, they did what the Haberstroh family always does: got together, and got to work.
The result is the #ALSPepperChallenge. It’s like the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge — except much, much hotter.
The idea is to eat a hot pepper — habanero or jalapeno — on camera. You’re filmed making a pledge to help find a cure. Then you nominate someone (or many others) to do the same.
A project like this needs a kick start. Patty’s son Tom — a longtime ESPN basketball writer — was just the man. His sports and media connections pushed the #ALSPepperChallenge into overdrive.
Since Christmas, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have eaten peppers — and raised funds. So have Domonique Foxworth, Dan Le Batard and the Miami Heat.
Oh, yeah: The Staples boys basketball team is doing it too.
“I’d never eaten a habanero, and I never want to again. But I’ll eat it a thousand more times if it means my mother and others living with ALS can kick this horrible disease,” Tom told People.
“There is no effective treatment for ALS. There is no cure. Anything we can do to change that, we’re going to try.”
(If you’re wondering: Why hot peppers? There are few things that make you feel more alive than eating one.)
Patty has been buoyed by support from friends, her sons’ and daughter’s friends, and complete strangers.
The average life span after diagnosis is 3 to 5 years. “I’m fighting against time here,” Patty said.
“I pray that these hot pepper eaters are raising enough money to find a cure for me and others before it’s too late.”
Anyone who knows Patty Haberstroh — and in Westport, that’s all of us — knows she is not sitting back, feeling sorry for herself.
She told People: “The adage to live each day fully has never rung more true to me. I’m saying to people that I’m lucky in that you often wish in a memorial service that the person who has passed away could hear the wonderful things being said about them. I am reading and seeing those things said while I’m very much here!”
The accolades will continue.
As will the hot pepper-eating, video-making and fundraising — in Westport, and around the world.
(For more information — and the donation page — click here.)
Posted onMay 20, 2017|Comments Off on Graduation Ceremony, Summer Camp Help For Kids In Need
Westport is a town with plenty.
And a town that never hesitates to help those who don’t have as much.
Right now, our wonderful Department of Human Services is running two programs that touch lives we may not always see.
One is “Ceremonies and Celebrations.” For the 14th year, the fund helps students purchase special event clothing for graduations from middle and high school.
It doesn’t sound like much. But to a teenager, looking like everyone else on a big day means the world.
Last year, 34 youngsters smiled with pride, alongside all their friends.
Everyone wants to look as good as these girls did, after Staples’ 2013 graduation. The Department of Human Services helps those who need it.
Human Services director Elaine Daignault suggests that (tax-deductible) donations can be made in honor of a special teacher or person in a student’s life. A letter of acknowledgment will be sent to the honored individual.
Checks payable to “DHS Family Programs” (memo line: “Ceremonies”) can be sent to Department of Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
Gift cards of any amount (American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Trumbull Mall/Westfield Shopping Center) to purchase clothes are also welcome.
For further information on this program, contact Patty Haberstroh (email@example.com; 203-341-1069).
The 2nd program is a fund to send children to summer camp. Like new clothes for a special occasion, this project is not frivolous. It’s a godsend for working parents — and a life-changer for kids.
Summer Camp has been part of growing up for decades. In 1953, Westport artist Stevan Dohanos used Camp Mahackeno for this Saturday Evening Post cover.
Every year, thanks pour in. One woman noted the importance of swim lessons for her autistic daughter. Another said that her child “came home with a new story, friend or art project every day — and a huge smile.”
In addition to covering costs for ever-popular Camp Compo, the fund has helped a boy play American Legion baseball, and a girl participate in Staples Players’ summer program.
The other day, Westport PAL donated $1,200 to the Campership Fund. If you’d like to join them, checks payable to “DHS Family Programs” (memo line: “Campership”) can be sent to Department of Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
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