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Weekly Roundup: Celebrating 70 Years to Comedy Night

Story written by: Demetrius Mason

Cerebral Palsy News

Comedy Night Raises Money for United Cerebral Palsy

On April 28, the third annual Comedy Night took place in Rancho, Sante Fe. The event was at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club and the comedians were Steve Kelley, Greg Otto, and Allan Harvey. This annual event is crucial because every year it raises money for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego County.

The United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCP) of San Diego was founded in 1958 by parents with children who had cerebral palsy. Like other associations around the country, it started when parents tried to give extra assistance to their children in the ways that hospitals weren’t equipped to do yet. The desire to help people in need has been so powerful that it’s extended to the creation of great events like Comedy Night.

“Since that time, we have served the San Diego community with a variety of programs and services for 60 years,” David Carucci, the executive director of the UCP in San Diego County told The Coast News, “The mission of United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego County is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people affected by cerebral palsy and other disabilities.”

David’s brother Marc also does incredible work with the UCP as the director of fund development. Both of them continue to improve the UCP through consistent hard work. Russ Nailz is another important person within the organization. Russ was the emcee of Comedy Night and has helped the UCP for 30 years hosting their galas and golf tournaments. His relationship with the UCP is very important to him along with his friendship with the Carucci brothers.

Russ was actually the person who came up with the idea of Comedy Night. As a comedian himself, Russ loves the idea of being able to combine the joy of laughter with the aspiration of helping those in need. Russ takes so much pride in Comedy Night that he considers it the best event he’s ever been a part of. On May 6th 150 people showed up donate on auctions, and enjoy the comedy show. The talent on stage was stunning as Russ has been able to get star comedians to perform.

“We had three top-flight standup comedians,” Nailz said of the talent on stage, “That’s why I’m not doing any standup. Allan, Greg, and Steve — each one of them can be a standalone headliner for a comedy club. In fact, they were when I was working at comedy clubs in the early 1980s.”

The event was great and keeps getting better each year. There was no shortage of entertainment, yet those in attendance understood why they were there. This seriousness could be seen in the auctions held later in the night with incredible donations. In all the comedy club raised $15,000 to help with cerebral palsy.

Marc couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome saying, “On behalf of UCP, I’d like to thank Russ T. Nailz, Nina Detrow and Michele Surrell of the Fairbanks Ranch CC for making this happen.”

Not Just Another Walk in the Park

On May 12 the 35th annual Walk in the Park took place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The event is a one-mile walk which raises money and awareness for Cerebral Palsy. The walk was held by the United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCP). The news didn’t stop with the walk because during the event one of their best employees announced their retirement.

Gene Amann has spent 40 years helping raise money for the UCP as the campaign director. Ultimately, he decided that now was the time to retire for several reasons. First and foremost was that Gene wanted to spend more time with his wife and kids. But the second reason is that Gene believes it’s time for the next generation of great leaders to take his place with the UCP.

Gene watched and help the UCP grew from the 1980’s to today. He will be remembered for helping the great foundation provide funding for those who needed it the most. Gene cared so much about the organization because he knew the difference it was making. Gene is still willing to help the UCP in any way possible because it holds a special place in his heart.

“It’s something that you never walk away from. It’s in your soul,” Gene said about retiring from the UCP, “It’s in your heart and that’s what life is all about is service to others and United Cerebral Palsy just happened to be the one that I was blessed and was able to connect with.”

No Weak Link in this Chain

The Grand East Angila Run (GEAR) took place on May 6 in Norfolk, Britain. The GEAR run is a 10k which happens annually but this time something amazing happened. 20 men ran the entire race chained together. These men were united not just in chains but their clothing. They wore shirts which had the picture of a smiling young girl which covered the entire chest. The girl was Daisy Mason and the group of runners called themselves the Daisy Chain.

Daisy Mason is a seven year old girl from East Wench, Norfolk who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The Daisy Chain was created to help Daisy cover her ongoing physiotherapy costs as well as purchasing a new wheelchair through donations. The young girl originally became known in Britain because she was featured on a popular show called ‘The Secret Life of Five Year Olds’.

Her uncle Howard Mason has been huge in raising money for Daisy. Howard and the rest of the Daisy Chain completed the run in one hour and 12 minutes. Ben Tansley was another person who showed how important this race was. Ben managed to finish the 10k with the Daisy Chain despite being in a wheelchair. The Daisy Chain made $9,811 during the GEAR run with $180 being raised after the 10k was completed. The group was recognized near the Tuesday Market and people were just throwing money into their bucket.

“We well exceeded our target, which is brilliant,” Howard said, proud of his team and what they were able to accomplish, “We are just hoping to raise as much as we can for Daisy.”

Happy 70th Anniversary to Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County

In 1948 a group of parents decided to make a difference in their community. There was little known about the neurological disorder affecting their children called cerebral palsy, but they figured there had to be a better way to care for the people affected. So the parents of Nassau County, New York, went out to make to make a place that helps people with cerebral palsy. The group rented out a small basement and hired a teacher and physician to start the program. The groundbreaking United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County (CP Nassau) was created.

The importance of the organization grew in the matter of a few years. People donated money to the foundation so that they could get their own building in 1952. Of course that creation wasn’t just a landmark moment for the organization, but cerebral palsy treatment at large. It was the first building of its kind to specifically focus on the rehabilitation and treatment of people with cerebral palsy.

On May 4 there was a party to celebrate the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County’s 70th anniversary. The event showed just how many lives were improved because of the facilities that the organization has to offer.

The people in attendance came from all stages of life, but each one had been positively affected by the association in some way.

There was Daniel Hecht, who has been there for 39 years since he was only 4 years old. Since he started going, Daniel has enjoyed the center each morning because of the friendships he’s made. Along the way, Daniel also learned how to stand, thanks to the treatment in the center.

On the other end, 8-year-old Makayla German walks with the help of a device, smiling as she celebrates her birthday.

Tommy Stallone has relied on the organization since he was 4 years old. He is one of only six people who have relied on the organization since it first started 70 years ago.

“Very, very nice,” Stallone told Newsday. “Everybody makes everybody happy.”

The growth of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County over the past 70 years is truly remarkable. From its humble beginnings, the organization has expanded exponentially and helps over 1,500 children and adults each year, and it owns 18 different buildings in New York and they have a staff of over 900 people.

Ultimately, the anniversary is a culmination of what those parents dreamed of back in 1948.