In a Fenwick Island restaurant, friends have eaten and laughed together. So it’s only fitting that when Todd Smallwood decided to run 100 miles in his friend Mark Habicht’s honor, One Coastal restaurant stepped up to fundraise.
Smallwood had already registered for the Graveyard 100 ultra-marathon in the Outer Banks of North Carolina when Habicht was diagnosed with the incurable and fatal ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Now, every dollar Smallwood raises will benefit organizations that support ALS research and patients.
Bernadette Mossman and her son, Randy King, are co-owners of One Coastal and are inviting the community to get involved — or at least enjoy a meal that will also benefit the fundraising. On Saturday, Feb. 23, One Coastal will host a fundraiser from noon to 6 p.m. A portion of dining proceeds will benefit Smallwood’s fundraising, as will a 50/50 drawing and silent auction.
“I think it’s good to get involved in the community, to help people who may be suffering from that disease,” said Mossman, who said she feels people and organizations can help however possible, whether they have the disease or not.
Mossman estimated that she has known Smallwood for nine years, and she met Habicht within the last year.
“Of course, with Todd Small running the race, that is exhausting. He is willing to take his body to help fight the cause also,” said Mossman. “We just want to help Johns Hopkins … so they can keep finding a cure or maybe more research.”
ALS affects the motor neurons of the central nervous system, which causes muscle deterioration and paralysis. People diagnosed with ALS can usually live for two to five more years, although new research could increase their life expectancy. In the future, though, Habicht expects he’ll need a ventilator to breathe.
“I think it really came to a head if you saw the Super Bowl, you saw O.J. Brigance, who was a member of the Ravens’ first Super Bowl team [in 2001],” said Smallwood. “Now he’s in a wheelchair and he can’t speak. You see just what a devastating disease it is. It just makes me want to finish this race and end this disease.”
Smallwood has already paid the race entrance fee, which benefits the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum. From this point forward, all donations will be split between the Brigance Brigade Foundation, the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins and the ALS Clinic at Johns Hopkins.
One Coastal hopes is still accepting items donated for the silent auction. For more information, contact One Coastal at (302) 537-4790.
“It means a lot to me because it’s going to help us raise more funds, which is the purpose of me doing the whole race,” said Smallwood. “I think it will help people be more aware of what I’m trying to do.”
Mossman encouraged people to visit the restaurant to participate or make an online donation. People can learn more or donate at www.fundraise.com/obxraceforals.