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Making a Difference

Local group raises funds for families

November 20, 2011
By RODNEY MINOR , The Leader Herald

AMSTERDAM - Vehicles were lined up along Route 30 on Monday evening, with people packed into Nicolino's restaurant.

While people were getting chicken parmesan dinners, this was no ordinary night at the restaurant. The event was a fundraiser for four families in the Broadalbin-Perth school district with members afflicted with cancer.

It was the latest event to help local families organized by Moms are Making a Difference.

Article Photos

Antonella Cassella, left, and Linda Gaydusek work in the kitchen during the chicken parmesan dinner Monday at Nicolino’s in?
Amsterdam. The event, organized by Moms are Making a Difference, raised money for four local families that have members battling cancer.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor

Susan Dygon, the owner and operator of Susan?Sanford's School of Dance in?Amsterdam and one of the founders of the group, was busy trying to make sure seating was available for patrons who dined at the restaurant.

Dygon said the group was "overwhelmed, but in a good way."

"We were not anticipating this kind of turnout," she said with a smile, as more people walked into the restaurant.

Last year, the group presold 200 tickets to the dinner and served 500 dinners the night of the event. This year, they presold 430 tickets and served about 750 meals on Monday,?Dygon said.

"This is such a fantastic community," she said.

The group started informally last year. A group of friends and local women - including Antonella Cassella, Nikki Green, Karen Deuel and Jessica VonBerg - simply wanted to help raise money for families in need.

"We felt we could do so much to make a difference," Dygon said.

The event attracted many sponsors who donated a variety of items for the silent auction and raffles.

Antonella Cassella, the owner of Nicolino's, donates the restaurant, its labor and her cooking for the fundraisers. It's a small price to pay to help families in need, she said.

Cassella noted she lost both her parents to cancer.

"It's something that I understand. [Helping the families] is something I believe in," she said.

More than any financial help the non-profit group is able to provide families, Dygon said, the fundraisers they have organized allow those involved to feel like they have some control of the situation and help people.

Pat VonBerg was at Nicolino's on Monday. His son, Christian, has again started going through?chemotherapy treatments.

VonBerg said seeing the turnout was "phenomenal." While any money the group can provide helps, he said that is not the main benefit for the family. It is nice to know so many in people in the community care, he said.

"Knowing the support is there is more important than the money," she said.

For more information about Moms are Making a Difference, visit the group's page on Facebook.



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