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'Biggest Loser' alumni to appear at 'unbirthday party' lupus fundraiser
When her 34th birthday rolled around in July 2011, Christine Miserandino knew she didn’t need another bracelet, candle or gift card, so she decided to throw what she calls an “unbirthday party.” Instead of asking friends to shower her with gifts, the Valley Stream resident and single mom invited them to a soiree where most would leave with raffle prizes or, at the very least, a goody bag.
“I like the idea of celebrating everyone else,” she said. “I wanted the attention off of me.”
All she asked of her guests was that they help her raise funds for a cause that means a great deal to her — the Lupus Alliance of Long Island/Queens — by purchasing tickets to attend the party and participating in the raffle.
Miserandino, who turned 36 on July 27, will hold her third annual “unbirthday party” on Thursday at Pompei restaurant, 401 Hempstead Ave. in West Hempstead. One of the night’s highlights will be appearances by former contestants of the NBC show “The Biggest Loser.” (Miserandino isn’t releasing their names because she wants it to be a surprise.) Last year, more than 75 people attended the event held at Bar Social in Uniondale, and raised more than $4,500 for the alliance.
Miserandino was diagnosed at age 15 with lupus and has become a resource for others coping with the chronic inflammatory disease through her blog, butyoudontlooksick.com, and on social media. (She has more than 7,000 Twitter followers and 59,000 Facebook fans, who consider themselves “spoonies,” a nod to a theory Miserandino developed in college to explain lupus to those not familiar with the disease.) She’s also traveled the country speaking at health conferences as a patient advocate, made TV appearances and recorded a video series for WebMD about lupus, but she wanted to do more for the cause.
“I’m not rich, I’m not a scientist, but I have a big mouth and pretty big presence on the Internet, so it was what I can do,” she said.
She’s already sold close to 100 tickets for this year’s party, which will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. It will feature a three-course meal, a DJ and more than 65 raffle prizes, including a trip to the Caribbean. Admission is $50 if purchased in advance at miserandino.eventbrite.com and $60 at the door. She said the first 100 guests to buy tickets will receive a goodie bag courtesy of Duane Reade valued at more than $60.
Because lupus makes Miserandino prone to severe fatigue, joint pain and stiffness, she’s had to rely on her friends, family, email and social media to organize and promote the party. She said one friend dropped off 75 chocolate lollipops that she made. Others have solicited businesses to donate prizes, wrapped raffle baskets and spread the word about the event.
“If you have a desire to help, you’ll find a way,” she said. “Every day, even if I don’t feel good, if I can help one other person feel better, then I’ve done my job.”