Fighting Cancer with Community
By Scott Bratt, OneTable Colorado Hub Manager
Andrew and I both moved to Colorado around the same time though we hadn’t been in contact for about 10 years. Originally friends from Herzl Camp in Webster, Wisconsin, we awkwardly reconnected over beers in Boulder more out of necessity than anything. We were alone in a new place with nothing familiar to cushion our landing. Before long, we were very close and comforted by having a friend to rely on. Finally, we had consistency and a semblance of a community, even if it’s just two people.
When I started working for OneTable, Andrew stuck it all out with me. He came to all my first Shabbat dinners, became one of OneTable Colorado’s first hosts and supported me on this new, scary task of trying to create a community through unique Shabbat dinners. After a lot of work and a lot of support, the community got off the ground and started taking shape.
On August 25th, we held a community OneTable Shabbat dinner to help support Andrew, who is suffering from a rare form of cancer called “NUT Midline Carcinoma”. While it has been a trying time for Andrew, his family, and the whole community around him, there has been an overwhelming amount of compassion. So many people have asked how they can support Andrew through this. To me, the dinner seemed like the best possible way for this community to pool its resources and find their unique way of contributing and supporting.
It started with a small group of us brainstorming how to organize logistics using nourishment from OneTable, and ways to fundraise to help Andrew and his family through this extensive, expensive fight with cancer. From a significant discount on our rental space at Galvanize through Koleby Margolies and Scott Miller, to wine and beer donations from Boulder Wine Merchant and Ratio BeerWorks, free catering from Amanda Glucklich, food provided by JewishColorado through Dirk Bird, Tanya Nathan and Rebecca White, compostables through Sarah Kornhauser and Hazon, and free rentals of lawn games from Niki Robins and Fluid Marketplace, there was an inspiring amount of generosity that contributed to this event’s success.
After the frame of the event was set, we worked to put together a raffle as a way of fundraising, asking the community to contribute what they could to be raffled off to attendees. Immediately, we were flooded with unique contributions and prizes. This included tickets to concerts and Rockies games, cooking lessons, handmade oil paintings, paddleboarding vouchers, Kombucha, candy, stylish haircuts, dog food vouchers, personal training sessions, guitar lessons, wine and restaurant gift cards. Guests bought $5 raffle tickets and chose the items they wanted to try and win. There was also a live auction that included higher-level donated items like Kenneth Cole watches, locally blown glass, a laptop computer and a free coding class through Galvanize. For me, the live auction was the highlight of the night–and, consequently, my next career endeavor.
It was so beautiful and incredibly uplifting to see it all come together, watching it grow as more and more people answered the call to contribute and support. Everyone was so eager to be part of the experience and stand with Andrew. The people showed up, the raffle prizes came in and the event was a huge success. And even after five consecutive days of chemotherapy, Andrew showed up. It was so powerful to watch him visibly access the overflowing communal support around him.
I’m really fortunate to be in the position that lets me witness the power of community first-hand, and allows me to truly understand the impact of every individual effort and contribution. It’s something I couldn’t truly fathom before working at OneTable.
I didn’t actualize the impact of this until last week’s dinner. It was work, right? A task. On the surface level, I was just doing my job. But then I imagined what this type of fundraiser would look like if I hadn’t joined the OneTable team. Almost every person in that room was connected to OneTable. Most guests had been to a dinner with Andrew, intimate or large-scale, and they showed up that night because that’s what communities do: they fight for the well-being of their individuals.
Two years ago, this would have been an arduous, daunting task. We would be totally incapable of creating something of this magnitude and impact. OneTable gave us the opportunity to be part of a community of our own, and that, to me, is its greatest function. Through piecing together a few Shabbat dinners, a handful of Nosh:pitality events, and some community-wide dinners, we created an army. A community that showed up to fight for Andrew.
I’m fortunate to watch this community as it grows. To see it from its shaky beginning to its stabilization and now witness its strength in giving back to its members. To support, to bring comfort and to heal.