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Canceled charity events hurt local foundations, businesses

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The charity golf event to benefit the Fallen Firefighters Foundation was scheduled for Friday, July 24th, but it was cancelled this year because of the pandemic.

CBS 58's Bill Walsh has been involved with the tournament for years, and found out that the loss of events like this one over the summer has had a ripple effect beyond the charities.

When a firefighter is hurt, or killed in the line of duty, organizations like the Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Ignite the Spirit Fund step in. Joe Flick, President of Ignite the Spirit Milwaukee, says his organization's stated mission is vague on purpose, so it can stay flexible with the help it provides firefighters.

"One of the things we really focus on is their mental well-being. We've been able to take care of transportation for firefighters that have had to go to inpatient centers to combat PTSD and depression," Flick said.

Ignite the Spirit has taken two big hits to their fundraising this year. Both the golf event, and Battle of the Badges were cancelled because of coronavirus. That may force Ignite the Spirit to scale back.

"We may not be able to give them (firefighters) the level of support that we've shown we're capable of giving to someone else in the past," Flick said.

Cancellation of the golf event cost Joe Albanese some business, and he’s used to it this summer. Many events, big and small, have fallen victim to coronavirus.

"We do catering at Miller Park for the visitor's clubhouse, we've been doing that for about 12-years. We do breakfast, post-game meals, gone," Albanese said.

Between the catering business and the restaurant in Wauwatosa, Italian food has been in the Albanese family for about 60-years. And in those six decades, the business has never been in a worse spot.

"This is somewhere I never thought I'd be after all these years, but we're pounding away," Albanese said, "we've had great support from, I don't want to say customers, I consider them all family."

Even Ironwood Golf Course says COVID has canceled thirty percent of their event business this summer. Event coordinator Katlynn Mushall says it's not the players who are staying away.

"The players want to get out of their house and enjoy this beautiful weather. It's definitely the sponsors, it's tough to get sponsors and donations for these events and that's where the struggle point is," she said.

Mushall considers Ironwood luckier than other event spaces, because the public is filling up tee times to replace the events that are lost. Still, the course is taking precautions for the events that do go on as scheduled.

"We are keeping everybody outside, open, feeling safe," Mushall said.

Joe Albanese says he's trying to ride out this pandemic like everyone else, by just hanging on. "Everything is… it's gone for 2020." he said.

And while they're trying to adjust to the new normal, Flick hopes the old way of doing things comes back, soon. "If we can just buckle down, everyone does what they're supposed to do, wear a mask in public, stay away from mass gatherings, we can get back to having fun at a fundraiser, raising money for people we care about a lot sooner."

Want to help out? If you have the means, grab takeout from the restaurants and taverns you love. Every order helps.

If money is tight, Joe Flick says just following your favorite cause or charity on social media can be a big help. Charity organizations want to spread their message, and those likes and follows help them do that.

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