No one really needs an excuse to drink good beer and eat quality pizza. But a group of Louisville parents believe they have found a good reason anyway. Several reasons, in fact.
Joey Klausing’s son Luke is one of those reasons. Luke, 8, has cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe. Klausing, his wife Jessica, and other parents of local children with CF decided to put together an event that would raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and, perhaps more importantly, raise awareness about this misunderstood disease. That festival is called CRAFT Louisville, and it happens under the Second Street Bridge trestle on Saturday, Oct. 10.
The list of vendors is impressive: Angio’s, BBC, Bearno’s, Boombozz, Diorio’s, Gordon Biersch, Hometown Pizza, Impellizzeri’s, Johnny Brusco’s, Johnny V’s, Loui Loui’s, Mellow Mushroom, Papa John’s, Pizza Place, and Spinelli’s are on board to provide pizza. Against the Grain, BBC, Sterling, Falls City, West 6th, Gordon Biersch, Goodwood, Great Flood Brewing and others are partner breweries.
In addition, Four Roses and Horse Bend Winery will serve samples, and Spotz Gelato and the Sippin Tea Company will be on hand as well.
While raising funds and awareness are a big part of the Klausings’ motivation for CRAFT, it’s also payback. The cystic fibrosis community, Joey Klausing said, “is such small community that when a child is born with CF, they reach out.”
Dealing with CF is never easy, he said, but the first year-and-a-half of Luke’s life was shockingly intense.
“You have to pour the medicine in their mouth while they’re breast feeding,” he said. “The pancreas doesn’t work. Luke ate every two hours for 18 months. God bless my wife, Jessica.”
During that time, the Klausings met other parents who’d had the same heartbreaking experience. For Jon Foushee, the experience was much the same.
“I didn’t know anybody,” Foushee said about when his daughter Alex was diagnosed at birth. “I’d never met anybody with CF. It’s a pretty rare disease.”
So he and his wife did what any parents would do — they did research about the disease online.
“It’s a pretty severe disease,” he said. “It’s scary to read about.”
Like Klausing, Foushee found his way to Louisville’s Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapter, where they got in touch with a variety of doctors and others who could steer them in the right direction. When they started to get involved in the organization, they began to meet other parents in their same situation.
That’s ultimately how CRAFT came to exist — these parents, who have bonded over their difficult situations, wanted to put together a fundraiser for the organization that has helped them, while also hosting a fun event anyone in the community can enjoy.
“What are the things people like in Louisville?” Klausing said they asked themselves. The answer was fairly obvious: “Craft pizza and craft beer. We kind of reached out to some local businesses, and the response was great.”
Of course, the main goal is to further cystic fibrosis research. But CRAFT is going to be more of a party than a fundraiser — that was by design. The organizers didn’t want a high-end gala, it wanted an event that everyone can enjoy but with an end to the means that is important.
“We all want our kids to outlive us,” Klausing said. “We want to keep moving their life expectancy up.”
And of course, they also want to support each other, which is embedded in the spirit of the event. No parent wants their child to be sick, but when it is unavoidable, support helps.
“It’s a bad situation to be in, in general,” Foushee said. “But as bad as it is, you’re glad to be part of this group.”
So far, he said, roughly 400 tickets have been sold. That number has grown from being mostly friends and family to many more who are just interested in having a good time on a Saturday night.
“Really the focus is the entire experience for the guests,” Foushee said. “I think it’s going to be a very fun, lighthearted event. We’re not going to spend a lot of time doing auctions and charitable things. Come on down and try what Louisville has to offer. Our goal is to have people come back in 2016. Hopefully we’re selling 1,000-plus tickets next year.”
The festival will be held at the Second Street Bridge Streetscape located on Second Street from 7-11 p.m. Tickets are $65 and include food and drink samples. Tickets are available online or at the door on the night of the event.