Enjoy some great craft beer, win prizes, help some good folks

Craft breweries make good partners for charitable groups.

For the most part, the craft beer community is a smart and generous bunch, and any time good brews are in the mix, a fundraiser becomes a party. Nearly every beer festival encompasses a charitable aspect, and breweries and craft beer bars regularly hold their own events.

Though it can be fun, the ultimate goal remains helping those who truly need it.

Shaven and shorn

Shaven and shorn

The recent Cut for the Cure Beard Shave-off at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa saw gents (and one lady) from three local breweries shear their beards and/or flowing locks to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The atmosphere was electric, and not just from the clippers wielded by the volunteer stylists from fundraising partner Sport Clips Haircuts. People were genuinely excited.

A personal example: I had already volunteered to sacrifice my beard, my first time clean-shaven in about 20 years.

Feeling Mohawkish.

Feeling Mohawkish.

Once I got in the chair, I challenged the enthusiastic crowd: If they chipped in another $200, I’d let them cut my hair into a Mohawk. Two minutes later, it was done. (Including, I’m proud to say, $20 from my 11-year-old daughter’s own pocket). The Foundation brought in more than $20,000 that night.

By the way, it’s not too late to donate. Please find out how by clicking here.

There are two more fundraisers coming up that I’d like to highlight, and they are to help individual members of Florida’s brewing community.


Homebrew-and-BBQNearly six years ago, Jeannie Lesage was diagnosed with end stage renal disease (translation: her kidneys didn’t work anymore). She eventually had to undergo daily dialysis for nine hours a day, and she was put on a transplant list. The situation soon drained her family’s resources, but they continued to support each other. Her son, Eric Lesage, had two healthy kidneys, but could not donate one to his mom because their blood types were incompatible.

So they signed up with UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) in hopes of getting a kidney for Jeannie through its Kidney Paired Donation program. It happened on March 4, with Eric donating one of his kidneys to a woman in New Jersey, and a woman in Tennessee donating one of hers to Jeannie.

All surgeries were deemed successful, though the recuperation period continues, especially for Jeannie. She will need to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life, which can cost up to $24,000 per year. Her insurance will cover that cost for only the next three years.

This fundraiser in Inverness will help raise money to offset past and future medical bills, and ensure that Jeannie will be able to be a part of her grandchildren’s life for years to come.

The tickets cost includes unlimited samples from local homebrew clubs – Eric has been a valuable and well-liked member of that community for years – and breweries from both in and out of Florida. In addition, some really awesome items have been donated by the breweries and local businesses for a raffle. Scroll through the event’s Facebook page to see what they are.

Anyone wishing to donate beer, other items or money can go to the fundraising page or email Eric at Umass2804@yahoo.com.


  • Where: Darwin Brewing Company, 803 17th Ave. W., Bradenton
  • When: Saturday, May 9, noon to 5 p.m.
  • Tickets: Requested $10 donation at door.

Mike rogers fundraiserMike Rogers is a brewer for Darwin Brewing Company, and this fundraiser will help pay for his medical bills.

Mike has throat cancer; he started treatment in December 2014 with a minor surgery followed with the removal of his tonsils in mid-January 2015. After recovery, he started a run of radiation and chemo sessions. He recently finished his first series and will hopefully receive a clean bill of health in about two to three months when he gets a PET scan.

He’s had to use a feeding tube because of the treatment, but is scheduled to have it removed on May 6. Mike has been on leave at Darwin, but he hopes that once he regains some muscle and strength, he can return to brewing and start making some incredible beer.

But that’s far from the end. Next year alone, Mike will have to get a minimum of three PET Scans (an out-of-pocket cost of about $3,500) not to mention all of the additional costs associated with treatments, medications, and loss of income from not being able to work as much.

That’s why Mike’s girlfriend (Terri Parson, from Coppertail Brewing Co. in Tampa) and best friend (Josh Biskup, homebrewer) are joining forces to host this fundraiser in hopes to wipe Mike’s medical debt clean.

The fundraiser will feature Peruvian barbecue prepared by Chef Darwin, a cornhole tournament, and a silent auction featuring items from various supporting breweries. All of the money earned during this event will go to benefit Mike.

If you are unable to attend but want to help, you can visit the Mike Rogers: Kicking Cancer’s Ass Event page and donate.

More information here.

A signed copy of my book, Florida Breweries, will be contributed to each of the fundraisers.


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