Hundreds of people packed Indigo Murphys in Dyker Heights on June 30 to raise money for local teen Giuseppe Parrelli, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder and skin cancer. Folks were shoulder to shoulder in the bar and together raised more than $10,000 to support the 16-year-old, an organizer and family friend said.
“You could not even move in there, it was an unbelievable success,” said Sara Steinweiss, a teacher who met Parelli after a workshop at his school, the Kingsborough Early College Secondary School. “Besides the money it was just a night full of love, laughter, and the community coming together.”
Steinweiss put together a silent auction and raffle to raise the money. Auction items included two tickets to the smash Broadway hit “Hamilton,” passes to a Mets game, and a framed photo of the Coney Island Boardwalk by Courier Life photographer Georgine Benvenuto that went into a “total bidding war” and sold for more than $1,000, according to Steinweiss. Raffle items included gift certificates to local restaurants.
The owners of Indigo Murphy’s — one is Parrelli’s former teacher — donated the space and food for attendees, and Lauren Smith-Sgalambro of Bay Ridge’s Desserts by Lauren kicked in a tower of cupcakes. Local group Frankie’s Mission also cut a check for $2,000, Steinweiss said.Parrelli, who friends and family affectionately call “Jo Jo,” was born with Epidermolysis bullosa, which renders skin extremely sensitive and causes blisters to form all over the body. The disease affects only one of every 20,000 people in the country, according to the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America, which calls it “the worst disease you’ve never heard of.”
The condition caused Parrelli to develop skin cancer, prompting doctors to amputate his foot in December. There is no cure for the disease. The money raised will help pay for Parrelli’s medical bills and to help support family members who care for him.