In the Heart of the Square
From time-to-time, we are given the opportunity to help each other and Harvard Square Business Association members always rise to the occasion. Sometimes our efforts are very local, like the time we all came together to sponsor the wedding of Dennis Coveney and Kelly Dugas. Other times it is an internationally focused effort. For example, last year we worked together to raise money for Haiti, earlier this year our focus was on the disaster in Japan, and every year (for the past five years) we raise thousands of dollars for our Annual Think Pink, Drink Pink, Shop Pink breast cancer awareness campaign.
Last week our member and friend, John Schall, owner of Fire + ice, was featured in Brian McGrory's column in the Boston Globe. If you missed it, here it is:
“It is wrenching to think what must have been rushing through Harlan Bean’s mind that night in September that he lofted an e-mail into the ether, a soft cry for help that he had no idea would find human eyes.
His smart and beautiful daughter, Brenna, a track star at her high school in western Massachusetts, was at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital after a horrible car crash left her paralyzed from the waist down. The moment was heartbreaking. The future was overwhelming. So he typed a message of quiet desperation to Fire + Ice, Brenna’s favorite restaurant from her occasional trips to Boston. He described her plight, asked if they did takeout, and added, “I don’t know Boston very well.’’
For all Bean knew, his e-mail was destined for some corporate headquarters in Evanston, Ind., where the secretary to an assistant would send back a coupon for 10 percent off.
He could have no idea that his e-mail would be sent to the account of a guy named John Schall, the Fire + Ice founder and owner of the Harvard Square location. He couldn’t know that Schall would cry that night while reading his e-mail, thinking, as he was, of his own brother, the track star paralyzed in a car crash his senior year in high school. And he couldn’t possibly predict what would unfold next.
Schall sent an e-mail right back to Bean, briefly describing how his younger brother, Mike, has overcome similar injuries to lead a “remarkable life for all of his 52 years, one way for the first 18 and a different way for the next 34.’’ Schall added: “I would love nothing more than to bring your daughter exactly the meal she would like.’’
The two men corresponded for a week, until the night Schall walked into the Spaulding carrying chicken and broccoli in a teriyaki sauce. Marie Bean, in her husband Harlan’s words, “gave him a huge hug like we’ve been friends for 20 years.’’
Sitting in his restaurant this week during the quiet between lunch and dinner, Schall marveled at a relationship that’s rooted in tragedy but nurtured by hope. He followed that first delivery with another, then brought Brenna and her parents to Fire + Ice a few weeks after that.
The goal, as Schall describes it in his mile-a-minute way, is to be there when they need him, often by letting them know of his own brother’s life — the canoe trips through the Amazon jungle, the hikes in the White Mountains, the ability to lead a meaningful life in a wheelchair as an insurance manager, husband, and father.
“They are wonderful people,’’ Schall said. “It’s just letting them know that I’m a resource.’’
As always, within minutes of word getting out, HSBA members called to offer their help. First responders included David Chilinski of Prellwitz / Chilinski Associates, Nancy Barrett from wagamama, Eleni Sacre of Schoenhof’s Foreign Books, Jack Rummel of Jack Rummel Photography, Donez Tavilla and Francesca Sibble of Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, Nhon Ma from Zinneken’s, Marcia Boston from Silver Clay Gifts, and Sal Airo Farullo from Boloco.
John is sponsoring a fundraiser at Fire + ice on June 14, 2011. All dinner proceeds and tips will be donated to buy a retrofitted vehicle for Brenna. This vehicle will provide her with the opportunity to once again drive a car. Reservations can be made by calling 617-547-9007. All proceeds will go the:
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