CITY OF VERNON — In 2019, Alan Flick hosted a food truck festival to raise money for Nourishing Recovery, the LuAnne Flick Memorial Foundation, which donates to the Yolanda J. Barco Cancer Institute. Despite rain on the day of the event, the event was a success, raising about $13,000.
Now, three years later, Flick is hosting the festival again with COVID-19 restrictions lifted. Returning after such a long break, Flick keeps an eye on the good weather forecast set for this weekend and hopes it doesn’t change.
The festival takes place on Saturday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm at Meadville Medical Center, One Vernon Place, 11277 Vernon Place. Featuring 16 food trucks and live music, including 50 Miles to Empty and Ron Yarman, the event promises to be a fun day in support of a good cause.
Flick’s wife, LouAnne, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. She managed to overcome the disease with the help of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and a year later she was in remission. However, in 2010, she was again diagnosed with cancer, specifically primary peritoneal cancer, a form of ovarian cancer.
She resisted again, but succumbed to illness four years later on December 13, 2014.
Flick, wanting to honor his wife’s memory, formed Nourishing Recovery to thank the Yolanda J. Barco Cancer Institute, Meadville Medical Center, and Crawford County Hospice for the help his wife received. Moreover, he wanted to help other people struggling with cancer.
So the money raised at the food truck festival will go to help cancer patients who otherwise can’t afford nutritional counseling. Flick explained that nutrition counseling is often not covered by insurance, so accessibility programs are very important.
Betsy Brown, director of the oncology department at the institute, explained that cancer patients often have trouble eating and balancing their diet, which can lead to a loss of appetite or sense of taste. Lack of food can be detrimental to the patient’s recovery.
“Just like any other time in life, nutrition is essential to your well-being and can help patients cope with illness,” she said.
Brown said a visit to a dietitian can cost between $100 and $150, reiterating that such visits are often not covered by insurance.
So the help that Flick, who owns Flick’s television and home appliances in town, was able to provide through the memorial fund was very important.
“It was really meaningful,” Brown said. “He has helped over 100 patients.”
In addition to helping people pay for consultations, the money has also been used to buy nutritional supplements for patients, Brown said.
As for Flick, he is glad to be able to continue his wife’s work.
“That’s great,” Flick said of the help. “She was an amazing person who touched many people in her life just for who she was and how she would interact with them. She was very concerned about other people, what they were dealing with, what was going on in their lives.”
Despite the hiatus, Flick said it was not difficult to organize the festival again. A particularly big reason for this was all the help that the organizers received.
“We had a lot of people helping our committee just to help us organize it, so we had a lot of community support,” he said.
The addition of live music is a particularly important new feature. During the first event, only a DJ played songs.
There will also be face painting and balloon figurines for children. Admission to the event is free, and proceeds from the sale of the food trucks will go towards the fundraiser.
Food trucks are, of course, the central stage of the event. Everything will be served, from hamburgers and flatbread to ice cream and macaroni and cheese. Participating trucks include Donutology, The Pizza Truck Erie, and The Chameleon, the last of which is a food truck that constantly changes its menu.
Meadville Smoky Martin’s BBQ restaurant is among the participants. Ryan King, general manager of Smoky Martin’s, said the staff is thrilled to be a part of this.
“We feel like having been here for over six years, we have become part of the community, so we definitely want to be part of that,” King said of the event.
Smoky Martin’s has hosted many events for the Meadville Medical Center, and he sees attending the event as a way to thank the hospital.
As for Flick, he wants to see if the event can raise more money than it did three years ago. However, such an outcome may depend on another hope that he places on the event.
“We hope the weather will be a little better this year,” he said.