TGI Friday's is blending the perfect concoction of spirit and good will to support autism research, raising nearly $40,000 last month at its Eastern (New York) Division's Shake, Rattle & Pour Regional Bartender Championship, benefiting the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR).
The event, held on Sept. 17 at the TGI Friday's restaurant in Wallkill, NY, attracted hundreds of patrons and raised significant awareness for autism and the need for increased research funding. Funds raised at the event supported the Long Island Walk F.A.R. for NAAR autism research walk, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 26 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
The genesis of the TGI Friday's benefit can be traced to the 2001 Long Island Walk, which was attended by Jim Mazany, and his family. Jim is director of operations for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide's Eastern Division, which includes nine New York area TGI Friday's. He recalled his impressions of the 2001 Long Island Walk.
“When we did our first walk, we saw all of the families and all of the people and it just hit me,” said Jim. “I began to think about what I could do to benefit research and possibly make a better future for families and children faced with autism.”
This year, Jim decided to make NAAR the beneficiary of this year's contest. In addition, he asked a fellow regional manager to consider naming NAAR as the beneficiary of another Shake, Rattle & Pour Regional Bartender Championship on Long Island, which his colleague agreed to do. Jim is also helping NAAR establish relationships with other regional managers.
For next year, Jim is interested in planning a golf outing to benefit NAAR and implementing the Footprints campaign in the nine restaurants located in his district, which include sites in Brooklyn, Forest Hills, Rockville Center, Manhasset and Wallkill.
But not to get ahead of things, Jim said he has one more event to look forward this month. He and his family and friends make up Luke's Troops, named after his son, Luke, and they will be making their third appearance in the Long Island Walk on Oct. 26.