UNION, NJ – Mike and Chrissy Lacerda were amazed and incredibly grateful to see the turnout at the Tenth Annual Taste of Union event on Thursday night at the Knights of Columbus

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Mike Lacerda.  “I am so very thankful.  So many people came to support us.  I can’t believe the turnout.”

Mike Lacerda suffered a brain aneurysm in May 2016.  He spent 41 days in the Neuro ICU at Overlook Hospital and another 35 days at the Kessler Rehabilitation Center. 

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According to his wife Chrissy, Michael has short term memory loss, balance and coordination issues. He can walk slowly, but does not have a lot of endurance. He has cognitive and memory deficits. He cannot work. He cannot drive. He lost hearing in his right ear. 

“But he has the best attitude around,” said Chrissy.

This year’s Taste of Union event will help the Lacerda family with their $2,400 a month COBRA payment and other living expenses.  Chrissy said she has wiped out their savings just to cover the monthly mortgage and bills.

“It’s very heartwarming to see all of these Union residents come out to help another resident in need,” said Township of Union Mayor Suzette Cavadas.  “And it’s wonderful that all of these local businesses have come to help so we can all experience some great food.”

“The love and support of the community is overwhelming,” said Phyllis Monguso, one of the event organizers.  “This benefit could not be for a better family.”  Monguso said the event has raised over $37,000 for the family’s expenses.  “That’s the most we’ve ever raised at one event,” said Monguso.  She said in the last five years, The Taste of Union has raised over $135,000. 

“I just want to thank everyone for coming,” said Chrissy.  “I’m in complete shock at this turnout.  It’s been a long year, but it’s going to get better and better with everyone’s help and support.  Thank you.”

“This is awesome,” said Mario Kizima of Johnny Napkins, one of the participating restaurants.  “A lot of local families came together to do something good for another family.  There’s smiles all around.”

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano presented a resolution to the family.  “Union has heart,” said Quijano.  She said she’s been coming to the event for several years, but the turnout at this year’s event was bigger than ever.  “It’s neighbors helping neighbors.”

The sold out event featured 22 restaurants serving an extensive variety of foods, from vegan to seafood and from Mexican to Italian. Participating restaurants and food vendors included:

   The Red Cadillac

   Mario’s Tutto Bene

   Rio Ridizio

   Red Lobster

   Kyoto Sushi II

   Two Que’s Café

   Chick-fil-A

   Johnny Napkins

   O Lagar Restaurant

   Mark Twain Diner

   Gusta Rosso

   Cozy Corner

   Applebee’s

   Whole Foods – Corner Table

   Cioffi’s

   Café Z

   Glendale Pizzeria

   Chestnut Chateau

   LaPiccola

   Blue Ribbon Bakery

   Carvel & Magic Fountain

   Stop & Shop