On Saturday, April 22, Hotel Pattee hosted the fundraiser “Breathing Life Into Air” for charity “Charlie’s Angels.” The charity works to bring awareness and raise funds for the cure of Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic mutation currently inhabiting three-year-old Charlie Hugunin.
In the past, “Charlie’s Angels” has been recognized for its fundraising efforts, earning the honor of top fundraiser in Iowa, twice.
This year, Hotel Pattee hosted the charity’s large April fundraising event, donating $841.00 from a previous bowling pin silent auction. On Saturday evening, Charlie’s Angels raised a grand total of $11,600 for Cystic-Fibrosis research.
“About 98 cents out of every dollar we raise goes to research,” saidTim Hugunin, Charlie’s father.
Around 30,000 individuals in the United States have Cystic-Fibrosis, totaling 70,000 worldwide. The ending goal for the charity is to find a cure.
“We’re always trying to increase awareness,” Hugunin said. “I’ve thanked Jay and his wife, Denise; this is our first time partnering with them and they’ve been so gracious and helpful.”
Previously, Hotel Pattee gave local patrons the opportunity to decorate a bowling pin that would later be involved in a silent auction. All funds from the auction were given to Charlie’s Angels.
“I was very happy with it, but I just hope they made a lot of money,” said Jay Hartz, owner of the Hotel Pattee.
The event at the hotel took place in the ballroom, and featured a dueling piano act, a silent auction for artwork, a rose stand, guessing games, refreshments and food.
Lynn Marr-Moore, Grandmother of Charlie and Spokesperson of Charlie’s Angels said the outcome of a first-time event is always in question, but the charity was extremely pleased with Saturday’s turnout.
“We are so beyond words; thank you does not even touch how we feel,” Marr-Moore said. “It’s overwhelming, it’s humbling, it’s honoring.”
In the past, Hotel Pattee donated rooms as auction items for the charity. This year, Hartz was interested in becoming more involved with the charity as his relationship with the Hugunin family grew.
“Once you meet the little girl, she just melts your heart,” Hartz said.
Hartz offered to host the charity event at Hotel Pattee as a way for the organization to have a more formal venue for the evening.
“It’s very humbling,” Marr-Moore said. “Unless you’re really close to someone with CF, you have no idea what they go through.”
The fundraiser was started after Charlie was diagnosed with Cystic-Fibrosis, a genetic mutation that has the ability to alter one’s weight, affect an appetite, house frequent lung infections, and make it difficult for easy-breathing, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Right now, Charlie has CF-induced asthma.
“She doesn’t know anything different; this just the way it is and she never says ‘I don’t want to do that,” Marr-Moore said. “She does really good.”
Charlie’s diagnosis has changed the daily routine of her loved ones. Tim Hugunin, Charlie’s Father, left his work to stay at home with Charlie. Family members, including a family babysitter, are also trained to take care of Charlie’s medical needs.
“There’s all different types of varying symptoms, some have all kinds of trouble, some can go their whole life without experiencing,” Hugunin said.
In an average day for Charlie will take a variety of pills to work around her sickness.
Charlie takes appetite stimulants, followed by pancreatic enzyme after she eats. Twice a day, Charlie will put on a vest, similar to a life jacket, that pumps air into attached hoses. The vest will begin to shake, helping assist in the break-up of mucus in Charlie’s lungs.
When she was two, the family put in a gastric-tube, or ‘G-Tube,’ for Charlie due to her inability to gain weight. She gets a feeding of a high-calorie, high-fat formula that hooks up to her g-tube and she typically uses the g-tube when she sleeps.
The family has been involved in Cystic-Fibrosis outreach for fifteen-odd years due to another family member with CF before Charlie.
Marr-Moore said oftentimes fundraisers are difficult for the family as it sheds light on the reason behind their dedication.
“This sweet little girl is very sick and it just hits home with all of us,” Marr-Moore said. “”But it keeps me going; this is what we’re supposed to do.”
Whether it’s totaling funds or creating new events, all family members are involved.
Charlie’s ten-year-old big sister, Alex, helped during Saturday’s fundraiser.
A purple rose booth was set up in front of registration for $10 a rose. Each rose featured an angel colored by Alex and her cousins with a scratch off in the middle. The idea of “65 Roses for Cystic Fibrosis” came from Alex’s love of art. The roses sold out quickly, raising $650 on Alex’s project.
“The little girl has brought so many wonderful people into our lives,” Marr-More said. “She is this little person that’s bringing all of these people together and we’re just all bonded by her.”
In a previous interview, Hartz spoke on the reason behind his effort to host the event.