by Larry Austin
The LaSalle Yacht Club has turned its Pasta Sauce Off benefit over to two successful fundraisers who are all of 11 years old.
Allyson Nemeth and Jessica Flash, students at St. Stephen School, lead Cooking For Cancer, a club the pair started less than two years ago. The club is a big part of the second-ever Pasta Sauce Off, a fundraiser that takes place Feb. 22 to support Carly's Club at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
"Carly's Club is a place where kids our age and younger have cancer," said Jessica the daughter of Sandra and Jim Flash. "We kind of help them try to live a normal life ... to help them be a normal kid."
Cancer is close to the girls' hearts. Ally Nemeth said the idea for the Cooking For Cancer started during a sleepover, when the two discovered they a several things in common: Flash's aunt had died of cancer and Nemeth's uncle was diagnosed with the disease; and they both loved to cook.
"And we decided that we wanted to make a difference," Allyson said. "So we decided we would start a nice club."
The pair organized friends at their school in baking treats, and they sold the baked goods door-to-door. "At first it was only supposed to be a small club, and we thought that maybe we would raise a couple hundred dollars, but then we raised $1,000," said Ally, the daughter of Kim and Tom Nemeth.
The team demonstrated not only a love for cooking, but a knack for marketing and leadership. Ally's mother, Kim, said it was the girls, not their parents, who organized their classmates in cooking and sought approvals for fundraisers in school, and then marketed the events.
"All my classmates helped," Ally said. "Our parents helped too, a lot. Lots of people helped."
"It was a lot of hard work at first," Jessica said of the fundraising. "Our parents didn't really think we would follow through with it."
"It was just a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you're going to help people that kind of motivated us the most," Jessica added. Their parents are singing a new tune now after the girls raised a cool grand.
"They actually didn't think we would follow through, so to see such a big amount like that, I think it made them just really proud," Jessica said.
The team has set its sights on doubling its fundraising total from a year ago with the help of the LaSalle Yacht Club's annual Pasta Sauce Off.
"They had a Pasta Sauce Off last year there, and they said that we could run it this year for our club," said Ally.
"This year we're having tons of publicity, and hopefully we're going to reach our goal of $2,000," Flash said, adding that so far this year the team has raised $350.
It's more than just cooking, but marketing and leadership.
"I mean, it's hard with two people to do that at such a young age, but I think we're doing really good," Jessica said. Raising money for Carly's Club is an endeavor that they plan to continue long into the future.
"I can see us doing it for many years," Allyson said. "It's really fun to do. It's like mine and Jessica's passion to do right now."
Pasta Sauce Off
•Saturday, Feb. 22 - Cooking for Cancer will hold its second annual Pasta Sauce Off to benefit Carly's Club at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The event will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. at the LaSalle Yacht Club, 73 S. 68th St., Niagara Falls. The event will include pasta sauces to try, a bake sale, raffles and a silent auction.
Allyson Nemeth and Jessica Flash are raising money for Carly's Club at the Pasta Sauce Off on Feb. 22.