NAUGATUCK, Conn. – When Samantha Caron, of Naugatuck, opened the Pour House Sports Tavern eight weeks ago, she was hopeful that she could create a new local hang out for her community. What she did not expect, however, was for her community to reach out and support her in a personal battle she has been fighting silently for 17 years.
In 1996, at the age of 29, Caron began to experience feelings of vertigo, and every once in a while, half of her face would go completely numb. As the owner of two businesses, she wrote off the symptoms as signs of a busy and stressful life. Two years later, after a round of MRI scans, spinal taps and consultations with doctors, Caron was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. Fearful of what stigma might be associated with her illness, Caron decided to keep her diagnosis quiet.
Determined, Caron pushed forward. She went on to marry and start a family. Now married to her husband, Rich, for 15 years, and with a 12 year-old son, Chase, Caron is on her third business venture.
“It is what I have always done, and I love it,” said Caron. “The Pour House Sports Tavern is my third restaurant, but it is just as exciting as when I opened my first. Working keeps me going, and reminds me that I do not have to give in to this illness.”
A few weeks after opening the Pour House Sports Tavern, Caron was faced with another challenge. After years of hiding the effects of her illness, her symptoms were now becoming more noticeable. After spending the day on her feet, her legs were tingly again and she was fatigued. When customers began to take notice, mistaking symptoms for intoxication, Caron decided she had had enough.
“That is when I decided to ‘come out’ about my MS,” said Caron. “I was tired of hiding it, and I was tired of people not understanding what I was going through. When I did finally start sharing my story, amazing things started to happen.”
Five weeks after opening the Pour House, Caron noticed that she already had a few local regulars, Pat Granahan and Rob Rager. The two men, both of Naugatuck, frequent the Pour House after their weekly round of golf at Hop Brook Golf Course, located less than a half a mile from the restaurant.
“One day I was talking to the guys about all of the benefits going on for various charities, and I said we should have one to benefit the National MS Society,” explained Caron. “They jumped right on board, and in less than a month, we had an entire golf tournament planned.”
The tournament will take place on Sunday, Nov. 10, at Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck. The event features a nine-hole couples’ scramble for men and women. Registration per couple is $75. Golfing will begin at 2 p.m.
A dinner for the golfers will be held at the Pour House Sports Tavern following the tournament. Non-golfers are encouraged to take part in the dinner for $25. The dinner event will include a drawing for prizes, featuring gift certificates to local venues, sports apparel and much more.
“I am very excited about how everything is coming together,” continued Caron. “It was an off-the-cuff idea only a few weeks ago, and it is all coming together very quickly. I cannot wait for the tournament, and I am excited about the years to come, too. I am sure that this event will grow every year.”
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Caron, live with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness, loss of mobility, and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.
To date, Caron reports 40 registered players and will continue to accept registrations. She hopes to raise at least $1,500 for the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter.
The Pour House Sports Tavern’s golf tournament is an example of Do It Yourself fundraising. The Connecticut Chapter receives numerous inquiries each year from individuals and organizations wishing to stage their own fundraising events to help in the fight against MS. These volunteer-coordinated “Do It Yourself” events – are run by interested volunteers independently from the chapter, and can include golf tournaments, bake sales, wine tastings, casual dress days and more.
Hop Brook Golf Course is located at 615 Church St. in Naugatuck. The Pour House is located at 175 Church St. in Naugatuck. To register for the tournament, contact Samantha Caron at 203.723.7687. For more information on Do It Yourself Fundraising, visit www.ctfightsMS.org.