LIVINGSTON, NJ - On Monday, Jun. 10, Swede’s Frozen Yogurt held an all-day fundraiser with 25 percent of the day’s proceeds being donated to Ollie Palooza, a cocktail event that raises funds for children affected by muscular dystrophy. This year, the event will be held on Thursday, July 25 in New York City.
Oliver Scheier, a second-grade Collins Elementary student, is one of only 70 people in the world who have been diagnosed with a very rare congenital form of Muscular Dystrophy called Rigid Spine. This will be the fourth year that the Scheier family has teamed up with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (M.D.A.), a national nonprofit organization, to raise funds as a service to other families affected by the disorder.
All of the money raised at fundraisers such as this one as well as the main event goes to research funding. M.D.A. Director Erin Dresnick said that fundraisers like the one at Swede’s serve as “kickoffs” to the main event, but are held more for awareness than anything else.
Dresnick also said that while the funding is so important, it is also essential to make young people understand and become conscious of the disorder.
“One of the things we want to do is bring about acceptance for people with disabilities,” she said.
Swede’s Owner David Feldman estimated that the day’s event brought between 400 and 500 guests to his frozen yogurt shop.
“I always wanted it to be about the community so we’re happy to participate,” he said. “For us to help with this cause is a no brainer.”
Collins Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher Greer Gelman felt just as strongly about keeping the community close. As a longtime friend of the Scheier family, Gelman was thrilled to see such a big turnout at the day’s event. “Being in a community that’s so supportive of each other, you can’t help but be so grateful.”
Some of the day’s participants, like Gelman and Oliver’s babysitter Shannon Zuber, spoke of how happy they were to see so many people show up because they believe Oliver and his family to be some of the most special people they know.
“Oliver is the most positive, funny, well-spirited person I know,” Zuber said. “I am so happy that so many people are here for him.”
Over the past three years, the Ollie Palooza event has raised over $250,000 and one million dollars has been donated to Oliver’s specific disease. His mother, Mindy Scheier, said that it was one of her good friends that suggested the idea to her and she now thinks of it as the greatest thing that anyone could have ever asked them to do.
“It became really important for us to raise money for research not only for him but for other kids down the line,” she said. “I’ve always felt like Oliver was a gift, but now I feel like he’s even more of a gift because he is able to help so many other families.”
Anyone wishing to purchase tickets, sponsor, or donate to Ollie Palooza can visit https://secure.mdausa.org/olliepalooza.