November 3rd, Funk-Zitiello Foundation held a Culinary Kickoff at the home of Tommy & Judi Zitiello for over 150 sponsors, potential sponsors, friends and Mayo Doctors. Five local chefs each prepared an appetizer for the group to vote on. Jacksonville’s celebrity Chef Amadeus, The Potters House – Chef Celestia Mobley TPC Chef Marvin Mizell and Alex Ottusch, Jacksonville Beach V’s Pizza chefs and Jacques Klempf and wife Tracy of Forking Amazing Restaurants. Food and wines were organized by Chef Kelly Baxley and David and Bobbie Kelly of Wagner Family Vineyards.
During the evening, guests were treated to local songstress “Hensley” as she sang with her beautiful “Norah Jones-esk” voice.
Guests were also reminded of the two important causes the June, 2017 event will support – The JT Townsend Foundation and Mayo Clinic Foundation Research working on an early detection method for pancreatic cancer. Tim Ross, his wife and son Timmy Ross gave a heart rendering account of how his family was blessed by receiving an adaptive stroller for their son who lives with cerebral palsy, The stroller had been denied by insurance and they had no means of buying one.
Adam Silva spoke for his family about his Mother’s difficult fight with pancreatic cancer and how his relationship with Judi Zitiello, a pancreatic cancer survivor will forever remind him of his wonderful and strong Mother. His talk brought the group to tears as he recounted the difficulty of this lethal cancer that strikes with no warning until it is too late.
Tommy & Judi both thanked the guests and reminded everyone of the positive effect JT Townsend Foundation has had on the First Coast disabled community helping over 250 families with more than $500K in assistance and equipment. They also quoted the very difficult statistics of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. How 58K people will be diagnosed this year and only 18 % will live 1 year. How only 8% of those diagnosed will live more than 5 years. How by 2020 this cancer will become the number two cancer with survival rate in the single digits.
The evening was a huge success with sponsorship commitments and donations totaling over $120K.