Park Ridge’s ‘Billy Bowl’ brings big bucks for charity
The Gooding family helped "pay it forward" with a Super Bowl fundraiser event for Misericordia in honor of Billy Kasch (center) on Feb. 3. Pictured left to right: Tyler, Jessica, Suzanne, Allie and Cassidy Gooding. | Provided photo
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:32PM
PARK RIDGE — Billy Kasch smiled from ear to ear on Super Bowl Sunday.
It hardly mattered that the San Francisco 49ers, the team he pulled for, lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
Decked out in a tuxedo and full of hugs, he was the star at a football-viewing party held in his honor called “Billy Bowl.” Over 400 friends, old and new, surrounded him.
“It was awesome seeing all my friends I haven’t seen in forever, having a lot of fun,” Kasch said.
With help from the community, a handful of Park Ridge residents hosted the jam-packed Super Bowl event Feb. 3 at the Snuggery Pub in Edison Park to raise money for Misericordia, a local non-profit that supports 600 adults and children with developmental disabilities.
Kasch, currently living with his parents in Park Ridge, is moving to a Misericordia home in April. He was born with hydrocephalus, a medical condition referred to as “water on the brain” that can have adverse effects on thought and behavior.
Under federal law students with disabilities are entitled to public educational services until the age of 22. The timing of Kasch’s acceptance into Misericordia couldn’t be more ideal: he celebrates his 22nd birthday on Feb. 28.
“Everyone in this community has been kind to him and included him,” said Mary Kasch, his mom. “Their generosity and kindness is overwhelming.”
Family, neighbors, teachers, pals from Misericordia, and perfect strangers watched this year’s big football at the Snuggery with Kasch. Between ticket admission, football squares, and a silent auction, the event raised approximately $10,000.
Kasch was astounded to learn of the amount.
“Seriously? Wow!” he said. “That’s amazing.”
The Super Bowl fundraiser for Misericordia is the successor to an event hosted in 2012 to raise the spirits of Suzanne Gooding’s four daughters, who lost their father a year and a half ago. Proceeds went towards college funds for the girls.
For the kindness they received last year, the Goodings wished to “pay it forward” and celebrate this year’s big football game by helping others.
Jocelyn McGovern, who organized both events with fellow Park Ridger Patti Vanella, said Kasch was the perfect person to plan a party for.
“He is just the best of what should be in all of us,” she said.
Snuggery owner Mark Hoffman stopped by the event with his wife.
“What a sweetheart,” he said of Kasch. “He was having a ball.”
Hoffman is finalizing plans to keep the goodwill going: Soon Moretti’s, his pizzeria adjacent to the Snuggery, will donate 15 percent of sales the first Thursday of the month to Misericordia.
“It’s about giving back our to roots,” said Hoffman, who grew up in Park Ridge and now resides in Barrington. “What a privilege to be part of this.”
Deerfield resident Stacy Ditka, daughter-in-law to “Da Coach” and a friend to McGovern, has also gotten involved.
The family’s clothing line, Ditka Kids Gridiron Clothing, is giving a 20 percent discount and donating $5 to Misericordia for each purchase from www.ditkakids.com with the promo code BILLY.
McGovern said the combined efforts of many reflect a strong community spirit.
“We’re a small pebble in the big picture,” she said. “I just hope Misericordia gets the help it needs.”