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Sunday, 11 November 2012 17:01

Pay it Forward: Tommy FitzGerald, Owner of Tommy FitzGerald Group

Written by  Lindsay Patton-Carson
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Pay it Forward: Tommy FitzGerald, Owner of Tommy FitzGerald Group Courtesy photo
What started as a surprise 40th birthday party in 2010 for chef Tommy FitzGerald has turned into an annual event benefiting many hungry children around West Michigan.

The whole thing started as a fluke, FitzGerald said. After hearing a bunch of friends were planning him a surprise birthday party, he put the kibosh on the plans.

“Keep in mind, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, I do about 60 to 80 parties, because I’m a chef and caterer,” he said. “So, that [party] didn’t really turn me on at all.”

Instead, FitzGerald and his friends turned the soirée into a big benefit that brought 1,200 people together to support the Kids’ Food Basket organization, which helps provide nutritious food to children who can’t otherwise get healthy meals.

In its first year, the event secured some 144,000 juice boxes. The Kids’ Food Basket goes through about 1 million juice boxes per year, FitzGerald said. The next Juice Ball is scheduled for Jan. 7 at the J.W. Marriott.

FitzGerald also helps out with The Franciscan Sisters at the Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell, which does music therapy for kids.

“Some of these kids have never made a sound, and I am huge into charities that are working it,” he said, referring to the nuns doing manual labor at the farm. “When you see a sister in her habit picking apples up on a ladder … you want to help them out as much as you can.”

Read 2977 times Last modified on Sunday, 11 November 2012 20:49
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