Roasting for a cause in RedmondRedmond Town Center, Redmond, Wash.
By Julian Michael for Kreate Professionals Network
Photos courtesy of Brandon Bleek Photography
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November 11, 2011 – “I can eat more than you,” announced Nick Magnotti in replying to #SeattleGeekRoast emcee Brian Westbrook’s @BMW hot-wing eating challenge to Nick while both were on stage cracking fun with one another in front of a fully attentive audience. Nick, a newly diagnosed, 25-year-old Stage IV abdominal cancer victim, shared his thanks and seemed surprisingly ‘cocky’ and at ease about his upcoming surgery, which occurs this coming November 22 at a cancer center in Omaha, Nebraska.
This past Friday evening, on the popular ‘11-11-11’ date, a standing room-only crowd of 275-plus guests packed a donated banquet room at the Redmond Town Center Marriott to support Nick and his wife, Alyssa Magnotti @alyssamag, in their cancer fight that lays ahead. Friends, family, technology industry ‘geeks’, business partners, supporters and general public comprised the audience; even a Star Wars storm trooper, Boba Fett and others were there!
Currently the Chief Operations Officer (COO) at ThinkSpace based in Redmond, Alyssa has had the opportunity to work with a variety of local businesses, organizations and startups. It is because of her affiliation with ThinkSpace that this event was possible to come to fruition in less than two weeks, led by the efforts of ThinkSpace CEO and Founder, Peter Chee @pchee and his team.
Although she was unable to attend the live event, Shauna Causey , Social Media Manager for Nordstrom and non-profit advocate, was another driving force to Seattle Geek Roast. According to Chee, the idea for this event blossomed from a conversation with Causey about how they could help the young couple. They then approached Alyssa and asked her opinion of the concept and never looked back!
“I am amazed to see so many people here tonight,” shouted Chee to the live audience as the evening’s opening presenter, obviously happy to have helped mastermind the Roast.
Overall, Chee, Causey, and a team of 37 volunteers produced, promoted and executed the #SeattleGeekRoast event from idea to reality in only 13 days. Their efforts were amplified by garnering support from several local news networks including KCPQ13, KIRO7, KING5 and KOMO4, a handful of sponsors including The Marriott, Archive Solutions Providers, Heinz Marketing, Swift Creek Games, Passport Unlimited, Design Laboratory, Brian Franklin of PMF Investments and Spring Creek Group, a top local auctioneer in Larry Snyder, and KIRO7 Anchor Jenni Hogan. Together, this chorus line of supporters donated media coverage, blog and twitter postings, web design, volunteers, and other event-related expenses including food and beverage for 250 people! Tech and other ‘Geeks’ making appearances at the event were Chris Parillo, Jeremiah Andrick of Logitech, Jenni Hogan (shows to left), Andrew Edwards of Gearlive.com, Social Media Club Founder Kevin Urie, and Brian Westbrook of Sandusky Radio.
A couple funny ‘roasts’ of the night:
– (Parillo to Hogan): “So KIRO pays you money to do what I can do for free from my iPhone!?”
– (Hogan to Westbrook): “Since Brian goes by ‘BMW’ in his Twitter handle, he’s a lot like a real BMW auto because they’re both full of gas!”
Approximately five weeks prior to Seattle Geek Roast, Nick suddenly felt a stomach ache that worsened quickly and was rushed to the ER because of a ruptured appendix. Initially, he was diagnosed with just an appendix rupture until receiving his pathology report several days later indicating he had developed a serious tumor and was now in fact a Stage IV cancer victim in immediate need of surgical attention, to the tune of $300,000 or more.
“The last five weeks have been a whirlwind,” said Alyssa during a segment of the event. “Nick has always been a super healthy dude,” she added about his surprise condition.
This time of year Nick would typically be playing on his softball team weekly and working at Lexus of Bellevue as a service department advisor, according to Nick’s oldest sister, Jacki Magnotti.
Nick has been diagnosed with Mucinous Adenocarcimona of the Appendix, which is a rare form of cancer typically found in patients in their 60’s and older. As a result of a late diagnosis, the cancer has masked itself without showing any obvious signs (as it is known to do) and has spread throughout his abdominal cavity. This form of cancer typically masks itself from visibility because it sits inside the fluids around the abdominal cavity nearly undetectable until reaching a late-stage nature, according to Alyssa Magnotti.
“This type of cancer cannot be beaten,” said Alyssa in a positive tone of voice, “but we’re gonna beat this for as long as possible!”
Normally the term Stage IV is reserved for type of cancer that has spread into the lymphatic system or blood stream. However, in Nick’s case, Stage IV means that his cancer is not contained within one organ and that it is technically inoperable, meaning a surgeon cannot make a 100-percent promise to remove all the cancerous cells.
Raising Funds for Nick
“Last call! All in? All Done? SOLD!” were the words heard the most throughout the evening from gratis auctioneer Larry Snyder @aunctioneer4hire, of Larry Snyder Auctions.
Over 130 items were donated to their live and silent auctions collection that raised approximately $50,000 for the young couple headed into the fight of their lives starting next week.
Whether it was silent auction tickets, which went for $20 each or 20 for $100, a cash donation, the chance to ‘roast’ one of the seven geeks on stage, or a heftier live auction item, there were funds being raised left and right all night for Nick.
The largest donation came from the Redmond Town Center Marriott @MarriottRedmond, care of Sergio Meza and Dan Angellar, with a price tag of $7,000, according to a tweet by Peter Chee.
“I can’t thank (Sergio and Dan) enough for their massive and generous donation,” said Chee on Twitter.
Two Stories From the Heart
One more treat for Nick was the two keynotes by Q13 FOX anchor Bill Wixey who fought and beat cancer recently and My Tam Nguyen, Mayor of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance on FourSquare and cancer survivor.
“I decided that if (this cancer) was going to kill me then I’m cool with it,” Wixey shared with the audience in a confident tone. “It’s about the fight, it’s not about the fear,” he added.
Wixey was fortunate to receive news that he had Hodgkins Lymphoma type of cancer, which has a proven 90-percent or better chance of eliminating all cancer cells, according to Wixey. During his campaign with cancer he used the Twitter hashtag #blessed and received much support from his viewers as a result.
During Nguyen’s segment she delved into more of the day-to-day details of what life is like as a Non-Hodgkin’s cancer survivor, sharing stories of grief, pain and a deeper meaning of life and the ‘will’ to live. She shared about her ‘pre-chemo parties’ whereby she would live life to it’s fullest with friends, not knowing when or if she would have the opportunity to party again with them.
“Life is much different remembering to take my twenty-something pills per day,” shared Tam with a faintness in her voice during her segment.
She added personal stories about chemo treatment, about discovery, and about the strength of the human spirit. Her message to the audience and to Nick: Ask and allow other to give.
The Road Ahead
Although the future is uncertain for Nick, his support from friends, family and community alike will remain strong. Nick’s surgery date is November 22 in Omaha, Ne. and will last anywhere from 6- to 18-hours, according to Alyssa Magnotti. He will then begin a recover process of three to four months, whereby Alyssa has opted to take a leave of absence to support her husband.
“My surgeon is extremely cocky about how well the surgery will go,” said Nick at the event. He admitted that his surgeon’s attitude is one of the reasons he maintains his positive attitude as well.
“I think is important for people to know that with this diagnosis comes a lifetime of tests, travel and possibly treatments, and Nick will never be able to let his guard down,” said Jacki Magnotti, Nick’s eldest sister, in a prior interview from the SeattleGeekRoast.com website. “And while (Nick, Alyssa and our family) so very much appreciate everything that everyone is doing right now, Nick and Alyssa will be needing assistance for years to come.”
We are all wishing Nick the best and we hope to see him around very soon with the same upbeat and cocky attitude that his surgeon has, and in a positive tone of voice that he carried throughout the evening. Maybe Nick will even be up for that hot wing challenge after all!
“I’m the perfect person to fight this fight because I can,” said Nick in a recent King 5 interview.
Ways to Continue to Give
– Write a check to the Nick Magnotti Benevolent Fund and mail to:
c/o Nick Magnotti Fund
8201 164th Ave NE, Suite 200
Redmond, WA 98052
– At BECU – drop off your check at any BECU branch and say it’s for the Nick Magnotti Benevolent Fund
– Visit NCF Seattle and click on ‘Benevolence & Ministry Funds’ on the right hand side of the website and find the ‘Donate’ button next to ‘Nick Magnotti Fund’
When Nick recovers from his surgery, the Kreate Professionals Network would like to help organize a ‘geek’ hot wing eating challenge for everyone to support Nick and Alyssa with their permission. More details to come but we’re with ya Nick! Our hearts and pocketbooks are out to you both. On a personal note about the author: my dad passed away in May of 2007 after becoming extremely ill suddenly and within 9 months we lost him to cancer-related illness at the age of 59.
– Twitter stream from @pchee @jennyhogan @BMW @alyssamag
– Article Alyssa and Nick, this is just the beginning… from ThinkSpace.com website
– www.seattlegeekroast.com website
– King5.com article