Ernie’s Burger Night to benefit OPEN |

Ernie’s Burger Night to benefit OPEN

Provided to the Tribune
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Members of Ordinary People Meeting Extraordinary Needs join Ernie's Coffee Shop owners, Judy and Paul Bruso, to invite the community to Burger Night at Ernie's to benefit OPEN. From left are Ray Goodenough, Michele Sattler, Carol Goodenough, Roger Sibley, Judy Bruso and Paul Bruso.

Paul Bruso, owner of Ernie’s Coffee Shop, has given more than 40 fundraising events to nonprofit service clubs and sports programs over the past several years through Ernie’s Burger Nights. One hundred percent of the profits return to each organization – a generous, respected trademark of Bruso’s business. He donates friendly staff, good food and his impeccable reputation.

Ordinary People Meeting Extraordinary Needs again has been invited to participate in Ernie’s Burger Night. The fundraiser will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at Ernie’s Coffee Shop, 1207 Emerald Bay Road. The cost is $10 per person and includes a burger, fries and milkshake. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available by calling (530) 541-1722.

OPEN has been helping residents of South Lake Tahoe who are unable to care for medical needs since 1990. This small, grassroots club was started when retired teachers Will and Marie Cluff realized that a neighbor had undergone several brain tumor surgeries and needed a liver transplant. After 18 months of concerted effort and community commitment, Teri Martin was flown to Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center in San Francisco Sept. 13, 1991, to receive a healthy liver. She is still alive today, ever willing to speak with gratitude of her experience and raise awareness of the need for organ donors.

In 2002 the South Lake Tahoe City Council proclaimed April 21-27 as National Organ and Tissue Week. OPEN hosted several events including a panel of local organ transplant recipients led by Martin. Members of the panel included a 76-year-old Sutter Memorial volunteer, who had received the heart of a 16-year-old boy 10 years earlier. At that time, at age 65, he was the oldest transplant recipient on the west coast. Because of his success other seniors have been accepted for transplants. While in Tahoe he spoke to Club Live and students at South Tahoe Middle School, Lake Tahoe Community College classes and Soroptimist International of Tahoe Sierra. With the help of Pat Amundson, OPEN joined the blood banks to register more than 300 donors with Living Bank, a national registry in Houston. Also, the Mountain News featured an inspiring article, “The Comeback Kid,” on “Angel” Adrian Garcia, a successful 15-year-old kidney transplant recipient.

In 2003 OPEN joined with “Great Ideas for Tahoe, Inc.,” a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to raising enough money to provide 20 complete pieces of equipment at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena for challenged individuals to enjoy sled skating/ice hockey. This form of skating is played by people with various disabilities such as amputees, spinal cord injuries, cerebral pasly, stroke and mentally-challenged. Players use their arms to propel themselves on the ice with a stick with small barbs on one end to move them around for recreational skating. A hockey stick is added for sled hockey. The players are seated on the sled, which is affixed to two skate blades under the seat. This project is the only way challenged people and some seniors can use the ice arena. As of today, 14 sleds and equipment are available.

In 2004 OPEN joined with the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center to provide much-needed rides to medical appointments outside the area. With two vans available and drivers who have been trained to utilize wheelchairs and snow chains, the service is free, including gasoline, and is paid for by OPEN. Recipients are asked to give two weeks advance notice so that schedules concurrent with separate senior requests can be made. Ray Goodenough is the facilitator and can be reached at (530) 541-1722.

OPEN, “the little club with the big heart,” is continuing to prove that ordinary people can and do make a difference in the lives of others.

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