Belly Up event to aid ALS research, awareness

Emphasizing the “fun” in fundraiser, Team Godfather Charitable Foundation is holding its second annual event Aug. 6 at the Belly Up Tavern to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Proceeds from Still Groovin’ with Godfather … for a Cause You Can’t Refuse will also be used to fund research and provide a support system for individuals and families currently dealing with the disease.
Team Godfather Charitable Foundation was founded in May 2010 by Carlsbad residents Mike and Maureen Ramirez, along with family members and friends.
After being diagnosed with ALS in September 2009, Mike Ramirez said he went into a “deep funk,” but it didn’t last long.
Doctors said he had about two years to live. “They didn’t say I have two years to die,” he said.
With that attitude, Ramirez began traveling and spending more time with family and friends. He also decided to help others, and his nonprofit organization is the result.
He said the name came from a nickname he acquired from his poker buddies and has nothing to do with “The Godfather” movies. However, he received a letter last year from a Beverly Hills law firm claiming copyright infringement.
But no legal action was taken after the foundation changed the font on its website.
ALS is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. It causes a loss of muscle strength and coordination that eventually results in complete paralysis. ALS affects approximately one out of every 100,000 people.
As many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time; a common first symptom is a painless weakness in a hand, foot, arm or leg, which occurs in more than half of all cases. Other early symptoms include difficulty with speech, swallowing or walking.
In about 10 percent of the cases, ALS is caused by a genetic defect. Otherwise there is no known cause or cure.
Team Godfather’s belief is that ALS is not an incurable disease, only an under-funded one. Last year the Belly Up event allowed the organization to fund grants to three ALS groups, including the San Diego Chapter of the ALS Association.
Early admission tickets for this year’s event are $200 and include a two-hour hosted reception beginning at 5:30 p.m., musical guests and a silent auction.
General admission is $85. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Music will be provided by Rock Party and Atomic Groove.
Although his health has declined, Ramirez will be at the fundraiser, Daryl Sacks, foundation president, said.
“He’s retired now and he hangs out to conserve his energy,” she said. “But he’s doing great. He’s the most inspirational person we know.”
Visit to purchase tickets or bid on the online auction.