Charm City Cakes and The Lemieux Foundation…giving back…

I thought this post would tie in really well following the Pittsburgh Penguins win last night!
In addition to my personal philanthropy each year, I make it a point to do something through my photography in order to give back to our community in some small way. Enter the Mario Lemieux Foundation; I’ve been donating my time and talent photographing and providing them with photos for the past seven or eight of the ten years they’ve been doing their important work.
It’s amazing how one person can make a difference if the desire to make a positive change exists. And when two people decide to make a difference together, the impact is even more powerful and even more positive. The Mario Lemieux Foundation came about as a result of the Lemieux’s having personal challenges in their lives that inspired them to help others and make a difference for many, which is exactly what they have done.
Mario Lemieux had been diagnosed, successfully treated for and recovered from Hodgkins disease; the diagnosis happened in 1993 during one of Mario’s greatest seasons playing for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.  Fast-forward a few years later when Mario and his lovely wife Nathalie had a son, Austin, who was born prematurely and spent – don’t quote me on this, but I believe – 81 days in the Neo-natal Intensive Care unit at the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh. Couple those two personal challenges with good people having a desire to make a difference and, VIOLA! the Foundation was born.
The Foundation annual fund-raising vehicles include the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament, which will be held at another establishment I am well connected with, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort June 24-25 this year, and the Playroom Project, an Initiative of the Mario Lemieux Foundation, whose events include the annual Ladies Luncheon at LeMont – Anna and Ed Dunlap are the wonderful hosts of the Ladies Luncheon annually – and the Chicks with Sticks Ladies Golf Tournament, to be held at The Club at Nevillewood again this year.  I photograph the Ladies Luncheon and Chicks with Sticks and really enjoy my time working with the wonderful staff who work so hard to make the Foundation such a huge success: Nancy, Drew, Karen, Melissa, Debbie, et ‘el, and the many volunteers that assist them.
The Foundation and it’s staff are a devoted group who put their hearts and souls into the important work of raising funds for both a cure and research for Cancer. This year during the Stanly Cup playoffs, there is even a Beard-a-Thon to raise money for the Foundation – what a hoot; check it out, grow your playoff beard to help the Pens and the Foundation – yes, ladies, you too can grow a beard – make a donation and help a really wonderful cause!  And the Ladies Luncheon and Chicks with Sticks events helps raise funds for the Playroom Project; an initiative that has built at current totals, twenty of Austin’s Playrooms that help benefit families and improve the quality of a child’s hospital experience, whether as a visitor or patient, by furnishing cheerful playrooms that are safe, calming and comfortable.

This year was the tenth anniversary of the Playroom Project initiative at LeMont. Mario Lemieux personally challenged the Foundation staff to make this year’s Ladies Luncheon really special for Nathalie, so they decided there was no better way to surprise/celebrate an anniversary for such a momentous occasion by making the theme of the luncheon all about cakes!  It was wonderful!  And, if you are a fan of cakes (and who isn’t!), then you are likely a Food Channel Network fan, where you will find the ultimate in cake-bakers, Chef Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes and star of one of the Food Network’s popular shows, Ace of Cakes fame!  Yes, it was a special occasion and nothing was spared.
Chef Duff arrived at about 7:30 AM with two of his trusty Charm City Cakes/Ace of Cakes partners, Mary Alice Fallon Yeskey and Sofia Rodriguez who assisted in whisking in the Charm City Cakes, including the special anniversary cake and multiple smaller cakes that were auction items at the Foundation luncheon.  In addition to the Charm City Cakes, there were multiple Playroom themed cakes created by the Ultimate Pastry Shop in Sewickley!  LeMont smelled like a Parisian sweet shop!  It was a beautiful and wonderful event as always.  A special thank you goes out to Chef Duff, the Charm City Cakes staff, the Ultimate Pastry Shop and LeMont for making the event both wonderful and a great success.

I’ll stop “talking” now, but really want to encourage those of you wondering how you might make a difference to explore the Mario Lemieux Foundation further – click to be transported to their website and find out more about how you can make a donation.
Enjoy the photos below- it was my honor and pleasure to be with you all.  See you in September!
BIG love, Joanne Bartone Photographer |
Chef Duff beginning to set up.  Here he is carving skate marks in the base/ice of the special 10th Anniversary cake…
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Continued set up and details of the Zamboni created by Geof at Charm City Cakes…
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Portrait of the Artist, Chef Duff and the masterpiece 10th Anniversary Cake!
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Some of the Charm City Cakes that were auctioned at the luncheon…all were extraordinarily creative!
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Another two of the Charm City Cakes on auction and an admirer of the art, Elyse Wright of  Wright Chevrolet…yes those are Penguins on top of the cake!  #87, Sidney Crosby and #71, Evgeni Malkin – awesome cake!

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
A couple of the auction items…who wouldn’t want one of these, especially right now!
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Cakes made by the Ultimate Pasty Shop in Sewickley…
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
…and a couple more of their cakes…
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Mario surprising Nathalie with flowers and Nathalie and Austin Lemieux, whose birth event inspired Nathalie to begin the Playroom Project Initiative within the Mario Lemieux foundation…

Nathalie and Mario Lemieux with Chef Duff and the 10th Anniversary Cake!

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Nancy Angus, Director of the Mario Lemieux Foundation and Auction Chair, Debbie Nute…

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Mario Lemieux with the Charm City Cakes crew: Dave Yeskey, Mary Alice Falon Yeskey, Mario Lemieux, Chef Duff Goldman and Sofia Rodriguez…what a GREAT group  of people, and I mean GREAT!

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
A little off-the-ice hockey between Mario Lemieux and Chef Duff Goldman.  And, oh, what’s that, checking?!!  NO Penalty!!!  Chef Duff used to play hockey – this match up was a great one!

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Joanne Bartone
Geoff’s Zamboni cake, where I took the liberty of a little creative license and added the “Let’s go Pens” sign!  Hope you don’t mind too much Geof!  😉

LET’S GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!