BY TOM LAVIS
The care and treatment of the area’s youngest trauma patients continues to be the mission that organizers have chosen for the sixth annual Conemaugh Health Foundation’s “Our Community, Our Children” chef auction.
The event will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center, 301 Napoleon St. in downtown Johnstown.
Debbie Costlow, associate director of the Conemaugh Health Foundation, said funds will benefit pediatric and teenage trauma and surgical patients at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.
“ ‘Our Community, Our Children’ chef auction began because Amanda Artim’s vision was all about doing something good for the community and making people realize that one person can truly make a difference,” Costlow said.
“Her vision has not only become a reality, but continues to grow beyond everyone’s expectations.”
Last year, the trauma center treated 118 pediatric patients; 45 pediatric patients with head injuries; 15 bicycle accidents; two burns in children under the age of 15; 45 teenage motor vehicle accidents; and 52 ATV accident victims.
The chef auction provides guests with gourmet samplings from local chefs of the area’s most prominent restaurants.
Artim, founder and chairwoman of the chef auction, dedicates her time and passion to making the event a success year after year.
“When we first began this event, things were on a much smaller scale,” Artim said.
“I believe we started with seven chefs participating.”
Now, nearly six years later and more than $150,000 raised, she has surpassed the original goal of renovating six pediatric rooms, providing a new lounge for visitors and siblings in the pediatric unit and providing equipment for the regional intensive care nursery.”
More than $48,000 was raised last year.
To assist in the effort, 10 executive chefs will serve their best dishes for auction patrons.
There will be an open bar, appetizers and a silent auction. Tastings will begin at 6, and the live chef auction will begin at 7:30.
Participating restaurants are Anthony’s, Amici’s, Asiago’s Tuscan Italian, The Boulevard Grill, Harrigan’s Café & Wine Deck, Joey Del’s 2001 Caterers, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Omni Bedford Springs Resort, Seven Springs Resort and Sunnehanna Country Club.
In addition to the executive chefs, the auction will include notable cooks visiting the homes of winning bidders for cooking demonstrations, to prepare a meal or to offer wine pairings.
“We also have a select number of restaurants and individuals donating additional packages for the event,” Artim said.
One of the packages will feature a meal at the home of Mary and Ivar Berge of Westmont.
“They have traveled the world and each year they host a dinner with a different theme and cuisine,” Artim said.
“They will open their home to a lucky bidder and serve an unforgettable meal.”
The couple’s theme last year was California, and featured items either grown or produced there, Mary Berge said.
“We welcome six guests into our home and we are in the kitchen and they relax in the dining room,” Berge said. “I’m the sous-chef and Ivar is the head chef.”
The couple also has hosted dinners with French and Scandinavian themes.
Because of their close association with Rotary Club International, they are able to travel extensively.
“We are culinary travelers,” she said.
“Just this year alone, we have been in nine countries.”
The Berges offer from six to eight courses with appropriate wines.
Bidders will have an interesting twist to the Berges newest theme called “Anything Goes.”
“The winning bidder will have each of the guests pick an ingredient and we will incorporate it into the meal,” she said.
Other packages have been donated by Back Door Cafe, Rizzo’s Restaurant, Chef Ryan Smith and Green Gables Restaurant.
Several winners will be selected through a “sweepstakes,” when through the course of the evening patrons may purchase chances on packages that range in value, number of guests and type of dinner.
In gratitude for the care given to her son, Artim wanted to “pay it forward” and help lift the spirits of children who spent time in the pediatrics unit.
Initially, Artim’s goal was to renovate six patient rooms in Conemaugh’s unit, which has been completed.
The rooms have been transformed by the painting of murals, curtains, cabinetry, and many more details.
Now that the unit has been updated, Artim wanted to continue helping the hospital’s youngest patients.
“I designed the fundraiser with the idea that it would extend beyond the pediatrics unit renovation project and continue to raise money to benefit the greatest patient needs in the Conemaugh Health System dealing strictly with children,” Artim said.
What: “Our Community, Our Children” sixth annual chef auction.
Where: Pasquerilla Conference Center, 301 Napoleon St. in downtown Johnstown.
When: 5 p.m. Oct. 9.
Reservations: Debbie Costlow, 534-3132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cost: $75 per person.