Alyssa and Nick, this is just the beginning…

November 13, 2011

Seattle Geek Roast Recap – November 11, 2011

Photos Credit: Brandon Bleek Photography

Two weeks ago I sat in the office with Alyssa and said “I have a proposal, I’m wondering if you and Nick would allow us to try and do a fundraiser for you guys. Shauna and I were on the phone last night and we thought it might be good to do something different — create an event called Seattle Geek Roast and blend it together with an fundraiser/auction”. Alyssa, thank you for saying “yes”. That really took a lot of courage for both you and Nick to agree to do that. If I were in your shoes, I don’t know what I would have done if someone asked me that same question.

Borderline Between Chaos and Order

Sometimes I’m a bit naive when taking on things. It’s a double edged sword – I pretty much believe that anything can be done if you put your mind to it and I sometimes I get into situations that can be clearly beyond my abilities. I tend to envision what would be the most amazing thing possible and then go for it. Things tend to be on the borderline of chaos and order and that seems to be ok with me. The one thing that I will say is that I’ve always found ways to surround myself with people that are way smarter than me and I just get out of their way.

It’s Not Me… It’s The Volunteers

All throughout the evening of Seattle Geek Roast, people kept saying nice things to me about what I did for Alyssa and Nick. Everyone was amazed that this event was planned in less than two weeks. Firstly, it’s not just me. It’s the volunteers… all 37+ of them. After launching the website “” in two days (kudos to Savannah Bridge for designing the Seattle Geek Roast header), we created a volunteer page that had 37 volunteer positions listed on it and in less than 2 days we had nearly 30 positions filled. Please check out the list of amazing volunteers (to see exactly the role), these people are the one’s that really made this event possible. Please stop thanking me and thank them. One person that clearly needs a shout out is Shonda Kearns. She jumped in during the last five days, worked around the clock, and carried me across the finish line.

The Amazing Volunteers:

Lisa Collins, Jay Collins, Debbie Isaman, Jacki Magnotti, Justine Magnotti, Mario Magnotti, Michelle Magnotti, Linda Magnotti, Melody Kieffer, Robyn Vaccaro, Scott Dowling, Derek Delconte, Danielle Bartoletti, Mieka Miller, Meredith Teague, Mike Ma, Brian Warnock, Heather Fernandez, Rebecca Dufek, Matt Ebert, Brandon Bleek, Joshua Hicks, Kelly Clay, Adam Wozney, Karianne Stinson, Kristi Waite, Savannah Bridge, Martin Thall, Miriam Kelly, Shonda Kearns.

What I Cherish The Most

Over the last two whirlwind weeks of planning this event, the memories that I will cherish the most are the individual conversations that I got to have with a lot of special people. I risk leaving a lot of people out but I’m going to highlight a few.

  • Shauna Causey: Heart of Gold, Creative Thinker. Giver. The perspective to keep this event light-hearted even though this situation is off-the-chart serious was exactly what was needed.
  • Daniel Angellar (Marriott): Your conversation with Alyssa and I nearly brought me to tears. You have an abundance of generosity, sincerity, and compassion.
  • Linda Benson (HopeLink): The conversation with Alyssa and I was strengthening. What you do everyday for people inspired me so that I could try to do same thing for one day for Alyssa and Nick.

I have to highlight these individuals because they gave unconditionally even when they knew they couldn’t even attend the event on 11.11.11.

Reminisce In The Moment

Our first speaker at Seattle Geek Roast, Bill Wixey (Q13 Fox News Achor), said something that completely resonated with me. He said “It’s hard to believe, but cancer can be a blessing in some ways. It makes you realize what you have. It makes you present and wistful. You actually REMINISCE IN THE MOMENT if that makes any sense.” In the context of “reminisce in the moment” I can relate. I felt that same way when my identical twin boys were being delivered one month pre-mature. I remember reflecting at that moment in the delivery room looking down at my wife, I don’t know whether or not these two babies are going to be healthy or not, but, we’re blessed and this is going to change our lives forever.
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It Takes A Village to Cure a Cancer Patient

Our second speaker was My Tam Nguyen. My conversation with My Tam a week earlier made me tear up. My Tam is 27 years old and told me her story and what she lives through when she goes through chemotherapy. She described it as both mentally and physically challenging (and the word challenging is being completely understated). My Tam says “It’s when we’re at the point of living and dying that we learn the true meaning of life”. Through her speech, she talked about community — that is what one of the things that helped her get through this. She brought up the quote “It takes a village to raise a child” and said “It takes a village to cure a cancer patient”.
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Fun and Full of Laughter

The seven geeks that put themselves out there for public voting have to be recognized. Chris Pirillo, Jenni Hogan, Kevin Urie, Jeremiah Andrick, Andrew Edwards, Shauna Causey, and Brian M. Westbrook. Thank you so much for participating in that. It certainly kept the event fun and entertaining. Also keeping it fun was auctioneer, Larry Snyder, who allowed me to toe-the-line between insanity and order. I’m happy to now have a new friend with a huge heart for others. Larry is awesome and exactly the right person to run our auction. Our Emcee was @BMW (Brian W. Westbrook) and he was absolutely brillant. Between Brian and Larry they managed to keep the flow of the event in complete balance. I must say the one of the most funny things that happened was during the public voting — Jenni Hogan (KIRO7 News Anchor) tweeted out:

That easily instigated a flurry of votes for Jenni having a reverse psychology effect on her fans.

Startups Are a Roller Coaster Ride, Seattle Geek Roast Was No Different

We had all the ups and downs of a startup. Here are some of the random roller-coaster things that occured:

  • This is going to be HUGE!
  • Is anyone going to register?
  • Where’s break-even on ticket sales again?
  • Pivot! We’re going to lose money on the event, axe the food! Change the time!
  • Why is sales the most difficult thing in a startup?
  • We’re getting press! Woo-hoo, it’s going to be HUGE!
  • Uh oh, we suddenly are way over budget on food? How did that happen?!
  • A few miracle donors help us out with food sponsorships!
  • Officially SOLD OUT! #GeekRoast!!!!!

Attendance and Donations

We had 272 ticket sales of which 40 people selected “I’m so bummed! I can’t attend but here’s my donation!”. We had a ton of people register at the door and bring a guest or two. The actual attendance count is unknown but it seemed like we had 280+ people. The total number of auction donations was over 130+ items! The big sponsors were: The Marriott, Archive Solutions Providers, Heinz Marketing, Swift Creek Games, Passport Unlimited, Design Labratory, Brian Franklin of PMF Investments, and Spring Creek Group. Dessert was donated by Little Prague Bakery! Thank you all so much! We also ran all of our auction credit card payments through “Credit Card Terminal for iPad” — big thanks to Derek Delconte with Innerfence. I think that really helped out as we didn’t have to clear payments at the end of the night. We raised approximately $50,000 from the event!

Photos Credit: Brandon Bleek Photography

For me, the outcome of Seattle Geek Roast is way beyond what I had ever hoped for. I don’t know how else to say this but to all the volunteers, auction donors, supporters, friends and family, I really don’t know how to adequately thank each of you for your generosity and support for Alyssa and Nick.
Photos Credit: Brandon Bleek Photography

I’ve always believed that family and friends are pretty much the most important thing when it’s all said and done. It’s always been about the relationships. During the last two weeks as I’ve had heart-to-heart conversations with a lot of people and I think it really crystalized at the event – it is all about the human heart and human spirit… everything else can be taken away from you and that is what I saw a lot of from each of you whether you attended the event or not.

Alyssa and Nick, this is just the beginning – our support for you both doesn’t stop with this event. The community that surrounds you will be with you every step of the way. You both mean so much to us and our thoughts and prayers are with you now and on November 22, 2011 (Nick’s surgery date).

Nick & Alyssa Magnotti at Seattle Geek Roast:

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Ways to Continue to Give:

  • Write a check to “Nick Magnotti Benevolent Fund” and mail your check to Thinkspace, c/o Nick Magnotti Fund, 8201 164th Ave NE, Suite 200 Redmond, WA 98052
  • Drop off your check at any BECU Branch and say it’s for the “Nick Magnotti Benevolent Fund”.
  • Go to 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”.

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Here are more of the photos from the night from Brandon Bleek Photography.

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