ALS event raises $31,000


Something very special and unusual happened on Sunday afternoon at Shaare Emeth. A group of friends threw a party to honor another friend and along the way raised a lot of money and awareness for her disease.

The event in question was “You Take The Cake,” a party organized by friends of Marla Scissors who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) early last year. The event raised $31,000. More than 500 people came out to show how much one woman means to them.


“I’m shocked at the results,” Natalie Ott, district director of Muscular Dystrophy Association St. Louis office, said. “This is huge for a first-time event.” Ott was surprised by the results.

“We only have a few social events during the year,” Ott said, “and it’s rare to bring in this much money. I’m shocked especially when I think about when I first sat down with Karen Sher [one of the party organizers] and we estimated we’d bring in $5,000.”

“The other thing that was amazing was the number of walk-ups. They sent invitations to 350 people and there were at least 150 walk-ups.”

Scissors’ friends who organized “You Take The Cake” were all people whom Scissors knew when they were in Shaare Emeth’s Youth Group together. Over 25 years later, they’re still close. In fact, prior to the party, they all participated in a private healing service which they had written.

“The service had beautiful writings and memories of Marla,” Lee Scissors, Marla’s mother, said. “There was not a dry eye in there. I looked around at all these kids who were friends 20 plus years ago and saw them singing together…it was beautiful.”

Barbara Brot Bailey, a youth group alum who now lives in Virginia, was one of the friends who helped create the service. “We wanted to show Marla how much we care and to surround her with love and peace.”

“It was like the services we used to put together in youth group, except it was a grown-up version,” Ann Mayer Eisen said.

“The service was beautiful,” Marla Scissors said. “You could feel the energy and the love literally in the room…those are the oldest and dearest people to me and to be surrounded by all of them I can’t even explain it.” When asked to tell why this group has managed to stay so close over the years, Marla struggled to answer. “Maybe it’s just the luck of the draw or kismet. I don’t know what it is but I’ve heard that it is unusual.”

The event involved a silent auction, entertainment, a brief program, food (donated by Companion Bakery, Kohn’s Kosher Market, and Minion Caf é), coffee (donated by Kaldi’s Coffeehouse), and ice cream (donated by Serendipity). The silent auction tables were crowded with beautiful desserts and gift certificates for everything from spas to weekend getaways to fitness centers. Over 80 items were available for bidding. Companion, where Scissors had been the pastry chef, donated several items that Scissors had created when she worked there. The Kitchen Conservatory, where Scissors taught, also contributed many desserts to the auction.

When the committee was putting together ideas for the event they decided they wanted it to be a family occasion. So, in addition to uplifting music provided by Ha-Shemesh and Shir Ami there was a kids’ area complete with a cake walk and a table to decorate cookies.

Other friends from youth group days, Beth Cohen, who now lives in Omaha, Neb., and Michael Goltzman, who lives in Washington D.C., didn’t just come in for the party — they also came in to help out.

“I’ve been friends with Marla for 30 years,” Goltzman said.

“And since Beth and I couldn’t help with the planning because we don’t live here we wanted to help today.”

MDA is still accepting donations from the event. Send checks to MDA, 345 Marshall Avenue, Suite 101, St. Louis, MO 63119. Note “You Take The Cake” in the memo line. Ott said all of the money will stay in St. Louis and will go to the MDA-ALS Division clinic at Washington University to help fund research.