An Orlando woman and her boyfriend have come up with a unique way to address a shortfall in coverage from their insurance company, which won't provide for surgery: holding a beer raffle of some of the most sought-after beers in the country, and a lot of them are from Florida.
Sara Black was diagnosed with TMJ disorder stemming from an injury when she was 4 years old that has been manifesting itself with pain such as constant headaches, daily jaw pain, and, most frightening, having her jaw lock for dozens of minutes at a time. Until now, she's come up short in the treatment of her disorder: Her insurance company won't cover surgery.
Enter boyfriend Doug Rusinek, a resourceful beer enthusiast who felt that his companion's well-being was worth more than a few bottles of beer.
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"When Sara first went through the consultation process, they informed her everything needed to be paid up-front and that the insurance company would reimburse her based on their definition of medically necessary, eventually learning they wouldn't cover anything... I felt helpless and knew I had to do something to help out," he says.
Though the entire operation is set to cost upward of $60,000, Rusinek is hoping any amount will be beneficial.
"I kind of took inventory of my life and what I could do to help out. I remembered a few months ago, I saw someone else do a similar idea for a child going through leukemia, and this idea immediately popped into my head. So I grabbed my best bottles and set up a GoFundMe page..."
Next Friday November 14, Rusinek will raffle off nine boxes of some of the most sought-after beer in Florida and much of the beer geek nation, with the help of some generous friends. "I knew the [beer] community is incredibly generous, and I know a lot of people would love to get their hands on the stuff I was giving away. I asked myself, 'What would you do to get a [Cigar City Brewing] Hunahpu? Would you try to win one for $10?' Hell yeah. What about one signed by Joey [Redner] and Wayne [Wambles]? Without a doubt."
As of now, the campaign has acquired $9,175 in support and raffle entries for people attempting to win one of nine available boxes of assorted beer-centered goodness.
"I received a message on Facebook from Khris Johnson, the head brewer for Green Bench [Brewing Company], one night. He said he'd like to help and threw in one each of their inaugural bottle release, Your Silent Captain and a special limited-release 750ml of For the Mad Ones which is one of 500 that were signed and numbered by Khris. They also have helped spread the word through social media. Ultimately, Green Bench is just an example of why we love St. Pete and the craft beer community."
For those looking to put their name in the hat for a chance at winning one of these monstrous boxes, here is what is on the table:
- Cigar City Brewing Marshal Zhukov
- Cigar City Brewing 2014 Hunahpu signed by owner of CCB Joey Redner and Brewmaster Wayne Wambles
Cigar City Brewing Teku Glass
- 2014 Cycle Brewing NooNer #6
- Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate BOMB!
- Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist
- Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse Bo & Luke
- Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXV
- Cigar City Brewing Illuminating the Path
- Evil Twin Double Barrel Jesus
- Pipeworks Raspberry Truffle Abduction
Box # 4
- Cigar City Brewing Brandy Barrel Hunahpu
- Cigar City Brewing Rum BA Da Un Beso a la Botella
- 7venth Sun Brewing Wolf Moon
- Green Bench Inaugural Bottle Release Bottles Donated by the Brewmaster himself. Great people at Green Bench, great beer too!
- Webb's City Cellar Series: For the Mad Ones (750ml) - Rye Sour Brown that was acidified with Lactobacillus and fermented 100% with Wild Yeast in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for 8 months
- Wood Parade Series: Your Silent Captain (750ml) - Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Tart Cherry Imperial Stout that was slightly acidified with Lactobacillus before being brewed with over one pound of cherries per gallon of beer, prior to being aged for three months in Apple Brandy Barrels.
- Dark Horse Brewing Co. Plead the 5th
- Prairie Artisan Ales Bible Belt & BOMB!
- Cigar City Brewing 2014 Marshal Zhukov
- 2014 Bourbon Barrel Aged Big Sound
- Cycle Brewing RareR Dos
- Goose Island 2013 Bourbon County Brand Barely Wine
- 2012 Bourbon County Brand Stout
- 2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout
- 2013 Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout
- CCB Da un Beso a la Botella
- Olde Hickory The Event Horizon
- Cantillion Iris 750ml
- Cantillion Gueze 750ml
- Drie Fonteinen 2008 Oude Gueze 750ml
"What started as one box of my best stuff has grown into nine boxes," Rusinek said. "So many people that were just internet acquaintances have reached out with bottle donations and helping spread the word that it's hard to put into words what it's really meant to us."
He especially singles out two communities: the Top Secret Tampa Bay Beer Nerds Hide Out Blanket/Pillow Fort on Facebook, and Reddit's /r/beertrade.
"It's just a great example of how the craft beer community is so kind, generous, and welcoming. It's mind-blowing how a bunch of people behind a keyboard can make you feel like you're part of something so real, so genuine and give you a true sense of community."
Those looking to donate or participate in the raffle have until this Friday to do so.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.