Through one woman’s diagnosis, people keep coming together for a night of eggrolls and stir-fry.
Sarah Hwang, 46, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and has been living with it for 19 years. She is passionate about raising funds and awareness through her “Hwang’s Wok-ers” team for Walk MS, an annual event through the National MS Society for research and programming.
Hwang started a unique fundraiser that has given a whole new meaning to Jews and Chinese food. In 2014, she started an event called Fight MS: Eggroll Style.
It is a Chinese buffet, originally hosted in Hwang’s home in Bayside. For one night, her kitchen is transformed into Hwang’s House of Yum, “a pop-up restaurant,” Hwang said.
Her husband Milt, 46, is the chef and cooks eggrolls, pot stickers, scallion pancakes, traditional stir-fry dishes, the favorite being beef pepper noodles and custom fortune cookies for dessert. A minimum of a $25 donation per person is required to eat. The first year, 65 people attended, mostly close family and friends. Last year, 130 people attended.
In addition to her fundraiser, Hwang uses multiple fundraising outlets such as social media, email solicitations and the Walk MS website March to May. Hwang describes her fundraising approach as “lots of people, small donations.”
Her efforts have paid off, as the funds have only increased. In 2014, $22,000 was raised and last year $53,000 was raised.
Her family are members of Congregation Sinai in Fox Point and Hwang is on the board of directors of Sinai and a member of Women of Sinai. She is also on the board of directors of the MS National Association Wisconsin Chapter. Milt is a member of Sinai Brotherhood.
This year, she has asked to use Congregation Sinai space, with the event having outgrown her home. “It’s expected to be the biggest one ever, meaning more awareness for MS and more funds for research,” Hwang said.
Hwang emphasized the supportiveness of her fellow Jewish Milwaukeeans.
“It is the idea of tzedakah. The community is rallying around me and my family for a cause,” Hwang said.
She is expecting a count of 150 to 200 people, with the same $25 donation as in prior years. Encompassing all her fundraising methods, this year’s goal is to raise $50,000.
Attendees can donate $100 per person to sit at a table in the kitchen and be in the middle of the action, receiving their eggrolls and stir-fry first.
There will be eggrolls galore, a set of 250 to 300, and kosher-style dishes. The Hwangs’ son Ethan, 13, will help set up the event and serve the food. The Hwangs are also asking for volunteers to help run the event.
Hwang hopes that the event allows for more open dialogue about MS; she suspects that more people in the Jewish community have been diagnosed with MS and are dealing with it alone. Hwang is “hoping to create more awareness and inspire people to tell their story,” she said.
Hwang has experienced the positivity through this otherwise life-changing diagnosis.
“It’s really amazing to feel the support in the [Jewish] community. It’s a really warm feeling. The Jewish community stand up for each other.”
How to go
What: Fight MS: Eggroll Style at Hwang’s House of Yum
When: March 10, 6-10 p.m.
Where: Congregation Sinai
8223 N. Port Washington Road, Fox Point
Here’s a link to register.