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Peterson Family Raises $50,000 for NF Research

By June 29, 2012December 5th, 2023Awareness

On June 3, 2012, Michael, Kelly, and Natalie Peterson participated in the Los Angeles, CA NF Walk.  On the same day, Michael’s mother, Carolyn, hosted a wonderful fundraiser in New Bern, NC to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation.  Together they raised $50,000 for NF research!

Below is Carolyn Peterson’s account of her event:

“Let there be no doubt that people who care are powerful. Let me tell you our story.

We were shocked to learn that our darling, two-year-old granddaughter, Natalie, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. Although one in every 3,000 people is diagnosed with this disorder, almost no one has heard of it and we have no record of it in either of her parents’ families.

There is no cure for this potentially devastating illness so the answers have to come through research. Our son Michael, Natalie’s father, asked for help in soliciting funds for the Children’s Tumor Foundation’s Los Angeles, CA NF Walk. I sent his appeal to family and friends across the nation. However, we wanted to do more.
My husband, Charles, and I decided to have a “fun raiser” in historic New Bern, NC. It was called, New Bern Cares to Cure NF. We set the date for June 3, 2012, in our garden, from 5-7 p.m. We thought we might be able to get 200 people at $20 each to buy a ticket. Our son had offered to match every dollar raised in L.A. or New Bern up to $20,000. All checks were to be made out to the Children’s Tumor Foundation and go directly to NF research.

Cooper’s Snowballs agreed to provide up to free 200 sno cones. Mustard’s Last Stand said they could sell hot dogs at a greatly reduced price. Wes Balance and Captain Ratty’s wine bar sent over two cases of wine. Firth and Pete Monte offered five cases of beer and Armstrong’s grocery and The Piggly Wiggly donated bottled water and “white” sodas. The Birthplace of Pepsi sent over generous amounts of Pepsi products, and my friend, Bedelia, enlisted the Craven County Brass Quintet to play Dixieland music from our porch.

I shared my concern with Cindy Turco that I would host a party and no one would attend. She told me not to worry and put me in touch with an enthusiastic cheerleader, Jill Thompson with the CarolinaEast Health Foundation. I shared our story with Dr. Ron May and Megan McGarvey at the local hospital. The CarolinaEast Medical System became our sponsor.

Our invitation included a description of NF as well as the party plans, and we placed a picture of Natalie on the cover. My friend Joe and several others claimed that I “didn’t fight fair.” No one could say no to such a charmer.

Invitations went to neighbors, friends in Rotary, PEO, church, bridge clubs, and to those who helped with the Historic Homes and Garden Spring Tour. I gave invitations to my workmen and favorite shop owners. Friends like Bedelia, Alma, and Phyllis took extra invitations and gave them to their friends.

My flyer about the event was okay but another friend of a friend made it look better. Corrine and Shannon posted them all over town.

Then “Buzzy Church” stepped in. One day as I was working in my garden, a lovely soft- spoken lady, Meta, leaned over the fence and asked, “Could I help you with the ‘fun raiser’?” She was tireless and filled with ideas: key chains, ribbons, beanie babies as favors. She enlisted more volunteers who then signed up more helpers. The fun multiplied.

I had contacted our favorite writer at the Sun Journal newspaper about writing an article. Phil Knight, the local radio/TV talk show host, graciously had Charles and me in twice for interviews about neurofibromatosis and our charity event. Also, a friend arranged for the local Fox news reporter to interview me in our garden, which appeared on the evening news for Fox and ABC. In addition, “the young’uns,” as I call them, stepped in and contacted Wendy Card to help with social media.

Enter our friend Rip, the video/electronics genius. He wrote press releases, edited the posters, and created a Facebook page (New Bern Cares to Cure NF). Meta found a local pediatrician, Dr. Marstan Crawford, who agreed to do a conversation about NF with me in our garden. Rip filmed the interview, edited it, and on the day of the garden party we ran the interview on a large screen TV on our porch with the donors’ names scrolling along the bottom of the picture. The film has now been viewed multiple times on our local access TV.

Faithful friends became volunteers and served beer, soda, wine, handed out Beanie Babies, and collected emails for future communications. Friends who were very familiar with our home, which was built in 1881, served as docents on house tours.

So as the song says, “With a lot of help from my friends,” new and old, we accomplished three goals.

1. On the beautiful afternoon of June 3, 2012, about 175 wonderful people gathered for a “fun raiser” to show that New Bern Cares to Cure NF. Over 125 additional people sent donations.

2. New Bern, North Carolina raised over $13,000 for NF research during one event. At the same time in L.A., my son and daughter-in-law, Kelly, were fundraising and participating in the Los Angeles, CA NF Walk. Together (“Peterson East Coast” and “Peterson West Coast” as we like to say) we raised over $50,000. That is the amount needed to test one experimental drug.

3. Awareness and information on neurofibromatosis has increased. During this time it became apparent that a support group was needed. The hospital has agreed to facilitate what might be the first such group in North Carolina.

Since the “fun raiser,” the Children’s Tumor Foundation has been the beneficiary of several charity games at local bridge clubs. After the sixth such event, the Morehead Club suggested that they write a letter to the National Bridge magazine suggesting that CTF become the designated charity for all ACBL clubs.

Last but not least, at the garden party Mayor Bettis read a proclamation dedicating the first week of June to neurofibromatosis awareness, proving once again that New Bern Cares to Cure NF.

And together we will.”