LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston Township is hosting the Sixth Annual Olliepalooza at the Mount Pleasant Middle School Fields Sunday, an all-day event sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and spearheaded by the Scheier family of Livingston. The Fifth Annual Olliepalooza raised $80,000 last year and has raised a total of $500,000 over the past five years for the MDA. This year, the family is bringing the carnival-themed fundraiser back home to Livingston so that community members of all ages and abilities are able to enjoy and support the event.
“We really felt that it was time to bring it back home to Livingston and have more of a “family day feel,” said Mindy Scheier, who is also “giving a voice in the world of fashion to the differently abled” via her 501c3 company Runway of Dreams.
Scheier’s ten-year-old son, Oliver, was born with a rare form of Muscle Dystrophy called Rigid Spine and is one of only 70 cases diagnosed with this form of Muscular Dystrophy in the world. In the past, Olliepalooza has been held in various locations including New York City and was only open to adults. This year, Ollie wanted the opportunity to participate in the cause.
The Livingston Township Council expressed its support in March and was happy to oblige Ollie’s wishes to bring the event home to Livingston. Councilman Edward Meinhardt and Mayor Michael Silverman stated that the council was in full agreement about how wonderful the carnival idea is.
“I’ve known the Scheiers for many, many years,” said Meinhardt. “I’ve been to every Olliepalooza there’s been and I think there’s nothing more worthwhile than to run an event like this.”
All of the money raised at Olliepalooza goes directly toward research funding at the MDA, but MDA Director Erin Dresnick said that while funding is important, it is also essential to make young people understand and become conscious of the disorder.
For the Scheier family, raising money for research has become an essential part of their daily lives not only for Ollie, but for other kids down the line as well.
“My family as a unit is so involved and ingrained in this mission that goes so far beyond our own story with Oliver,” Scheier said. “The fact that we’re helping to be the voice of millions of people is truly a gift.”
This year’s Olliepalooza event is being held June 14 at 4 p.m. on the Mount Pleasant Middle School Fields in Livingston. The event fee is $25 at the door.