WAKEFIELD — Friday night was a special one for the Think of Michael Foundation (TOM).
TOM’s Dick Dalton said he expects the amount raised from the fourth Annual Trivia Night will, once again, top $100,000, which will be used to help fight substance-use disorder and help addicts make the transition from recovery to the real world. The fundraiser was held at the Four Points by Sheraton Wakefield Boston Hotel & Conference Center.
“It’s still too early to tell, but we went into the night already with about $60,000 from sponsors and donations,” said Dick Dalton. “Last year, we raised $107,000, so we think we should be at or above that number by the time the final numbers are in.”
Dick Dalton and his wife, TOM President Carmela Dalton; their son Jamie Dalton; and daughter, Stacey Dalton Cook, established the foundation after Dick and Carmela Dalton’s son Michael Dalton, a hockey and football standout at St. Sebastian’s School who went on to star at Colby College, died in 2018 at the age of 39 from an opiate overdose while in outpatient treatment.
“I feel in my heart that through Michael’s death, something good has come out of it and we are helping so many people. It’s a good feeling,” said Carmela Dalton. “It’s sad on one hand, but it’s also so very meaningful. We couldn’t do this without the help of our friends and family and the board, which is fabulous.”
The foundation presented its annual Michael V. Dalton Making a Difference Award to State Rep. Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston). Madaro currently serves as the House chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.
Carmela Dalton said Madaro is “so worthy of this award for his exceptional work and contributions to the foundation’s mission and the impact he has had in the community. He’s been a tireless advocate for legislation and funding that is making a difference.”
Madaro said he’s privileged to partner with “some amazing individuals and advocates across the state who are doing transformative work in behavioral health care and this is such a beautiful way to honor Michael’s memory.”
“The Think of Michael Foundation is doing amazing work not only raising money to make sure that folks have opportunities for scholarships to get into sober homes, but also doing the work each and every day of breaking barriers that those in recovery and those with substance use disorder have to deal with as well as combatting the stigma of addiction that’s still very alive and well,” Madaro said. “Thank you for what you do.”
Dick Dalton said the Making a Difference Award is for “great people doing great things.”
“We felt it’s so important to give them credit for the good things they are doing, so that people know there are so many people who are working to make a difference helping those in recovery succeed,” he said.
Once again, Trivia Night featured Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality and former Lynnfield resident Billy Costa as guest auctioneer, along with live and silent auctions and — of course — a trivia contest.
“Trivia Night always has not only a large following, but a generous one,” Costa said. “People are very committed to this event and this cause. I love coming here. I’m a Lynnfield guy. They’ve got this great knack for getting people to donate and it’s a fun night. They get to eat and drink and then we tip them upside down and take their money.”
Costa said his strategy is to keep the bidding moving.
“Read the room to see where you have two people who really want the prize when you can throw a few surprises at them, like doubling up the item to double the donation,” he said.
Boston anthem singer Todd Angilly treated the attendees to a performance of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” prior to the start of the bidding for a personal appearance.
Bidding was so lively that Angilly sweetened the deal with a couple of bottles of wine from his new wine business, fittingly named Star Spangled Vineyard, saying “the more you bid the more I sing.”
When a third bidder got in on the action, Angilly tossed in not just one more appearance, but two. The winning bids were $1,600 each, bringing in a total of $4,800.
Bidding was also fierce when Costa threw in a surprise item — four tickets to the KISS 108 Jingle Ball. Costa doubled the donation after Lynnfield resident Maria Micile raced to the front of the room and sat next to a gentleman bidder, pretending to hold down his hands. The winning bids topped out at $2,800 each.
“I just had to have those tickets for my daughter’s birthday in December,” Micile said.
The foundation provides financial aid in the form of scholarships to recovering addicts to help defray the cost of living at sober houses as they transition from rehabilitation to the real world, and also provides scholarships to high school students. The foundation has since expanded its mission to other endeavors, including job assistance.
In recognition of their important work and positive impact, Carmela and Dick Dalton were honored as Essex Media Group’s 2019 Lynnfield Persons of the Year.
Dick Dalton said TOM is thankful to have premier sponsors Everett Bank and Chapters Recovery Centers.
“They are really great organizations and we thank them very much for their generosity and we thank all our sponsors for supporting us,” Dick Dalton said.