Food and fundraising came together on the evening of June 9, when La Posta Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen opened its doors for the first-ever Taste of Italy, a fundraiser to benefit the newly founded HobbleJog Foundation, which supports individuals recovering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
For Charlie Priola, owner of La Posta, hosting the fundraiser was an easy choice. “I opened up this local restaurant here a couple years ago,” Priola said. “When [HobbleJog founder Susan Hahn] asked me about this, I was all for it to help raise money for people that are in need of help.”
But this foundation is personal for him. Not only is Hahn his neighbor of nearly 15 years, but Priola’s sister suffered from a TBI about a year before Hahn.
“These people that have these horrible accidents, they have a second chance at life,” Priola said. “I hold this close to my heart because of what happened to my sister.”
At the fundraiser, attendees had the chance to taste two selections from La Posta’s private wine label: Pinot Grigio and a red blend.
Part of HobbleJog’s mission is providing grants. Since its inception, HobbleJog has awarded five grants, one of which was a college support grant that went to TBI survivor Evan Scheineerg ahead of his going to college. Scheineerg spoke at Taste of Italy about his TBI and his experience with HobbleJog.
The grant given to Scheineerg helped him pay for costs related to his TBI while he was away at college.
“With the help of my family, support system, and new friend Susan Hahn and the HobbleJog Foundation, I’ve been able to maintain the attitude of not letting my TBI define who I am and hold me back in life,” Scheineerg said.
For Hahn, the foundation helped her find her purpose after her TBI.
“Basically I was saying, ‘Why was I resuscitated? Why am I here?’ Truly, it said to me, ‘There is something you’re supposed to be doing,’” Hahn said. “I now know what that is, and it does have to do with brain injury, and it does have to do with supporting services and support to people beyond the acute medical crisis intervention.”