Virginia Run's Shea Megale, 10 1/2, has a mom, dad, sister, brother and dog. She also has SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), a rare, incurable form of muscular dystrophy.
AND TO raise money for research that could help her and others battling this disease, Glory Days Grill in Centreville is holding a fund-raiser. It will be next Thursday, April 6, from 5-9 p.m., in this popular restaurant in the Old Centreville Crossing Shopping Center.
During that time — with several Virginia Run Elementary teachers serving meals — it will donate 20 percent of its food proceeds to the cause. And from 9 p.m. on, the tips of special guest bartenders will also be contributed.
In addition, the event serves as a kickoff to the upcoming, annual Walk for Shea through the Virginia Run community which also raises money for SMA research. This year's walk will be Sunday, April 23; registration and further information is at www.walkforshea.com.
Jeff and Kathleen Newman are co-owners of the Centreville Glory Days and are delighted to play a role in raising money for the battle against SMA. And their restaurant and others in the chain held 200 fund-raisers last year for various causes.
"We feel that a huge part of our success is due to the support we receive every day from the local community," said Jeff Newman. "So we feel it is an obligation to give back to the people who've helped us become successful."
Glory Days now has 17 locations and, on April 16, it will celebrate its 10th anniversary. It's been in Centreville for six years. Newman said Glory Days started its Dining for Dollars program in 1996 at its first location, in Burke.
"IT WAS SO successful that it became part of our corporate philosophy," he explained. "And now, some of our locations run multiple fund-raisers at the same time." The restaurant usually gives 10 percent of its food proceeds to charity during these events.
But for Shea, said Newman, "We're going to up the ante and double the normal amount. We're doing 20 percent because of the cause and because some of the people associated with it have been good patrons of ours. We really want to get a huge turnout that night so we can boost that [donation] check up as much as possible." Besides, he added, "Not too many people know about this disease, so it's also a way of getting the word out."
Virginia Run resident Mo Nieves, who organizes the annual Walk for Shea, praised the Newmans for their generosity. "They've been wonderful to allow this," she said. "They've really been phenomenal."
Shea attends Virginia Run Elementary and, to attract even more diners to Glory Days, the night of the fund-raiser, several faculty members will help serve food. They include: Josh Antoncic, P.E. teacher; Shea's teacher, Todd Pangman, fifth grade; Janet Payne, second; Chris Del Grosso, sixth; Kelly Schwenk, kindergarten; Holly Goolsby, fifth; Karen Zapf, fourth; Donna Mathis, music; and Catherine Conley, librarian.
AMONG THE guest bartenders, later that evening, will be Shea's dad Larry Megale, plus family friends Bob Biagi and John O'Shaughnessy, who also live in Virginia Run. Biagi has participated in the Walk for Shea since its inception, and he got Nieves and Newman together, he said, "Because I know Glory Days is very involved in the local community."
And if experience counts, then Biagi ought to be a pretty adept bartender. "When I was in college, I was a bartender in Fairfax City," he said. "And once you learn how to make drinks, you never forget." He said margaritas are his specialty.
The whole Megale family, including mom Megan, sister Kelley, 16, and brother Matthew, 15, who both attend Westfield High, will join in the food and fund-raising festivities at Glory Days. And Megan Megale says Shea can hardly wait.
"Shea's extremely excited because it's something new," said Megale. "And she's also excited about her teachers being there and taking food orders. It's absolutely awesome that Glory Days would come forward and do this for her. The generosity of people over the years, and continuing still, has been wonderful."
Contributions may also be made to: Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, P.O. Box 196, Libertyville, Ill. 60048.