Last Sunday, Sonny McLean’s in Santa Monica, California, became an extension of Lansdowne Street, home of Fenway Park, in Boston. The familiar smells of beer, clam chowder, and fish and chips welcomed hundreds of Boston transplants and their supportive Los Angeles friends who, for the day, were resident Bostonians as they gathered at a rally to raise money for the Boston Marathon bombing victims in conjunction with the Dropkick Murphys’ Claddagh Fund.
It all began with a text Methuen, Massachusetts native Kiel Servideo, 26, sent to his good friend Mike Coughlin, 26, of Dorchester, early in the morning on Tuesday, April 16. “What if we organized something for Boston people in LA to raise money?” Servideo asked.
With three words, Coughlin was onboard. “Let’s do it.” After a call to Kiel Servideo’s brother Zach Servideo, 28, both of whom attended Boston University with Coughlin, the three began the daunting task of assembling a fundraiser in less than five days. Coughlin, a supporter of the Claddagh Fund since its inception in 2009, said they were ecstatic when he reached out to them, while Kiel Servideo, who regularly watches Bruins games at Sonny McLean’s, secured the venue with owner Grant Woods. Support from friends and family came rolling in, with many still donating items for the raffle the morning of the event.
By Sunday, the network of support Coughlin and Kiel and Zach Servideo had woven together through countless emails and phone calls over a frenzied five days had finally come together. Sonny McLean’s provided a home to the bands that performed (including Los Angeles-based Thirsty Heroes, who had the ingenious idea of raffling off a chance to sing “Sweet Caroline” with the band and raise even more money) and a live auction, and donated 10 percent of its alcohol sales for the day.
Next door, Santa Monica specialty running store Top to Top not only organized a 5k in conjunction with the event, which alone raised over $1,000, but donated the use of their space to display the event’s 30+ raffle items. For a suggested donation at the door of $10, attendees received two tickets for the raffle, which included such prizes as tickets to a taping of Conan, The Voice, and Chelsea Lately, park-hopper passes to Disneyland, concert tickets, IMAX passes, and autographed merchandise from shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy.
The live auction, for which Coughlin and Kiel and Zach Servideo secured a professional auctioneer, featured a Red Sox merchandise package that fetched over $300, a signed Wes Welker jersey that went for $400, and a hockey stick signed by the entire 2011-2012 Bruins team that went to Woods for $900, no doubt destined for a special spot on the wall. As a special surprise, actor Neal McDonough took the stage to auction off a dinner with himself and his wife at their favorite Mexican restaurant, as well as an all-inclusive golf package at his country club, both of which notched an additional $1,300 for the day’s total.
By the end of it all, over 500 people had attended the event which many had told Coughlin “was impossible” to pull off in such a short amount of time. The three Boston transplants who had the idea to start a fundraiser only five days before found that they had raised over $15,000 to directly benefit the victims of the tragedy.
In addition to the money they raised, Coughlin, Kiel Servideo, and Zach Servideo accomplished something equally as important on Sunday: They reminded the hundreds of people involved with their once small idea of the contagious nature of hope. What began as a text between friends took on a life of its own as everyone they contacted, whether they were from Boston or not, asked to help in some way.
“If you believe in anything in life, believe in the good in the world,” Zach Servideo said the day after the event. “I’m in awe of the goodness of people,” Kiel Servideo added.
Coughlin spoke for every Boston transplant, not just in Los Angeles but across the country, who felt the pull of their native city after last Monday’s tragedy and wished there was something they could do to help. “I thought I was home,” he said.
For three hours on Sunday, he, Kiel Servideo and Zach Servideo gave hundreds of others the opportunity to feel the same way.
You can donate to the Claddagh Fund and support the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings here.