Primo’s holds benefit for Team Wandell

Published 1:37 pm Sunday, May 28, 2017

Looking to pull double duty, Primo’s Italian Restaurant was able to help raise awareness for a good cause while supporting one local hero.

Primo’s held a special fundraiser at their Elizabethton location on Wednesday, May 24, and was able to donate 15 percent of their daily earnings to Team Wandell – an organization formed to help spread the story of former East Side Elementary Principal Josh Wandell’s – who continues to battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

“He used to come to the restaurant every Wednesday after church,” said Primo’s manager Brendan Koehler. “Moe (Farrouki), our owner, would always come over and joke with him and his uncle (Kelly Geagley). But now, he’s started up a little bit of a tradition by coming in on Wednesdays with a group of guys. We always have time to sit around and joke, talk … he’s just an incredible person.”

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Throughout the day, the restaurant positioned different donation buckets at tables for patrons to donate an amount. Along with the daily earnings, the restaurant also held multiple raffles for various prizes as a way to raise funds.

“We appreciate Primo’s and the staff,” Geagley said. “The fact they would do something like this for Josh is incredible. It really means a lot.”

Koehler said the idea for the fundraiser came after attending East Side’s dedication of the Early Learning Center for Wandell.

Seeing the affect Wandell’s story brings to the community struck a chord with Koehler, and he said it is a story that can resonate with everyone especially with the motto “Faith Over Fear.”

“You dig into his story; you see what he’s all about … he’s the epitome of what we all should strive to be like,” he said. “He doesn’t want pity; he never gets down. He’s got such an amazing outlook on life, and it’s a message that continues to impact the community.

“They say in this world there are no more heroes,” he continued. “Well, here in Elizabethton, all you have to do is look in your backyard and see we have one of the biggest heroes of all time. Not many men live the way he does … Primo’s just wants to thank him for being such a man of faith.”