Everyone is welcome to chocolate, music and food on the eve of the summer solstice, all for an incredible cause. On June 19, Clevelanders are welcome to gather and celebrate with ZuZu Chocolates for the 10k Fight To End Alzheimer’s pop-up fundraiser. An annual event organized by ZuZu Chocolates, the fundraiser will take place at 36383 Detroit Road in Avon at 11 a.m. and will run until 1 p.m.
“Everyone knows someone that has Alzheimer’s, unfortunately. Someone else needs the help, someone else needs the research,” says owner Tamara Mlynowski, whose mother has fought the disease for 13 years. “If this is all that we can do, then it’s what we have to do.” In addition to raffle baskets stuffed with donations from local businesses, the event will also feature a presence from ZuZu’s dessert food truck, Cocky’s Bagels, Oh Fluff!, Rohr Photography and Poppin Cleveland. As a part of the festivities, Zuzu chocolates will have chocolate covered grapes, chocolate covered Oreos, chocolate pizzas, candy bars and lollipops available for purchase.
Sponsor booklets will also be passed out, though no amount donated toward the $10,000 goal is too small. Ahead of the event, we sit down with Mlynowski to get her thoughts on her motivations behind the fundraiser.
Q: What was the inspiration and process behind starting ZuZu Chocolates?
A: ZuZu Chocolates is actually named after my mom. Back in 2018, my mom went to hospice right after I got married and we were able to get her over to my house for Christmas day. My husband and I just wanted to get her something she likes, and we knew she loves chocolates, so we made her ZuZu’s favorites, which are dark chocolate, almonds and coconut. It kind of just went from there and in March 2020, I decided to quit my job to focus on the business and be a full-time mom.
Q: How has your personal fight against Alzheimer’s impacted the business?
A: When someone close to you has Alzheimer’s disease like my mom — she’s always been my best friend — there’s only so much that you can do. The least that we could do is help fight Alzheimer’s disease by raising funds and making donations to the Alzheimer’s Association. We donate every month in her honor. [Our] goal is to donate more and more each year and this year we’re on track to double the funds from last year.
Q: What’s the significance of holding the fundraiser on The Longest Day?
A: The Longest Day happens one day a year and is a full day of support. We’re donating every penny we raise. It’s so vital to get those funds out there because one day there will be a cure. I wanted to put on a little carnival festival because it reminds me of growing up at our church festival. My mom always took us and always worked it. It’s something that she loves.
Q: How are you hoping to make an impact through organizing events like this one?
A: I never really realized how many people out there have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. I have tons of customers that tell us their stories about their loved ones. So, it’s just more of being there for other people. They don’t just come and buy chocolate from us; they sit and tell us about what they’ve experienced. It’s more being there for someone I don’t know, but who understands what I’m going through and how it feels.