Connections Create a Powerful Force

How CARRE is trying to change the future for those with MSA.

By
Kay Segal, Senior vice president, trade relations and conference education

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CARRE (Charitable Alliance for Restaurant & Retail Executives) was established to provide leadership through charitable giving while building stronger relationships and bonds within CSP Business Media’s conference community. For each of our large conferences, Convenience Retailing University, Restaurant Leadership, FARE (Foodservice at Retail Exchange) and Outlook, CSP names a charity for which we raise funds.

Primary support is to non-profit organizations, including, but not limited to, those that assist others suffering from disability, disease, illness and other hardships, as well as organizations that promote the development of programs that extol the virtues of humanitarian leadership.

These charities, with which someone in our business community is affiliated, are traditionally brought forth via conversations with operators and suppliers. These charities often have a tie to people for personal reasons, such as someone stricken with a disease for which the charity provides support in some way. Over the years, CSP and the communities we serve in the restaurant segment, as well as the convenience & retail petroleum segment, have raised more than $1 million to help causes including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Stand Up to Cancer, Juvenile Diabetes, Feed My Starving Children, Waste Not and Fragile X, among others. Many of our selected charities focus on diseases related to children, but not always.

In conjunction with our forthcoming Outlook Conference, which will occur Nov. 9-12 in Scottsdale, Ariz., we selected to support fundraising for a disease called Multiple System Atrophy, or MSA.

What It Is

MSA is a neuro-degenerative disorder affecting multiple body systems. MSA is associated with the degeneration of nerve cells in specific areas of the brain. This cell degeneration causes major symptoms of any combination, including ataxia (loss of balance and coordination), severe low blood pressure leading to dizziness or fainting when standing, speech and swallowing difficulties, sleep disorders, breathing problems, other system failures, and rigidity and tremor similar to Parkinson’s Disease. The cause of MSA is unknown, and no specific risk factors have been identified. About 55% of cases occur in men, with typical age of onset in the late 50s to early 60s.

As you may have read in Paul Reuter’s column earlier this year [CSP—March ’13, p. 10], or an online story about Huck’s fundraising efforts in May, two members of our convenience retailing community are battling MSA: Rex Griswold of Nestle Waters North America; and Tom Gillard, formerly of Tropicana, QTG and MET-Rx.

Our MSA fundraising effort differs from previous efforts. We began our effort with the support of Nestle Waters in making a video to share with everyone. You can view the video at www.cspnet.com/msa.

Given the magnitude of this disease, the fact that there has been little to no research into the cause and possible treatment or cure, CSP determined it was necessary for us to take a very different approach to our fundraising. With our community’s help, we are working to put this disease on the map and also chart a course for helping Rex, Tom and others.

Tom’s Story

In a recent autobiography by Tom, he shared that “Before his diagnosis, [he] spent 29 years in the food and beverage industry, with the last 19 years devoted to the convenience store channel of trade.” See the story at www.outlookconference.com.

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