Sometimes life deals us blows that seem impossible to recover from.
In 2000, Mary Ratto's eldest son, Kyle, was killed by a drunk driver as he was walking on the side of the road in Sonoma. Then, in 2009, another tragedy struck the family when Ratto's younger son Kurtis suffered a brain injury in an accident while rough housing with friends.
Kurtis now has a feeding tube and relies on a wheelchair to get around. He lives at a residential facility, although Mary visits him each day before and after work, combing his hair, brushing his teeth and comforting him with stories and caresses.
To help the local family, The Fabulous Women, a Petaluma philanthropic organization is organizing a simple and sincere community benefit, to be held February 24 at Theater Square.
"Mary's grace in light of everything that happened is tremendous," says Krista Gawronski, who started the Fabulous Women group in 2006 and whose family owns Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop. "Anybody can connect to this story."
“We hope that the evening will emotionally strengthen Mary and help her with the financial costs to care for her son. It is our intention as an organization to show this mom some community support.”
Gawronski started charitable networking events six years ago to help a Petaluma woman whose husband had died suddenly, leaving her with two young children. Since then, Fabulous Women has grown to include hundreds of supporters and has raised money for the late Danny Cox, Ling Murray, the Rohnert Park woman who was critically injured and daughter killed by a texting driver, and a girl's school in Rwanda.
Mary Ratto’s story came to light following a fundraising event for Cox, when a friend of the family asked if the Fabulous Women could perhaps help. Gawronski was already overextended, but knew she had to do something.
Hence the February 24 party. So, what can you do? First, save the date and plan to bring a friend down to Theater Square at 6:30 p.m. on February 24 for the adults-only gathering. Everyone is asked to bring their own wine glass and an appetizer plate to share. “Courage & Love” will take place at 140 Second St., in Suite 108.
And don’t forget to bring a few bills to stuff in the paint can. Every dollar will help offset months of accumulated doctors' bills and ongoing nursing care for the Ratto family.
Many folks behind the scenes contribute to this effort. They include Petaluma Valley Athletic Club, Basin Street Properties, and the law offices of Sandra Acevedo, all of who have stepped up in numerous ways to support the Fabulous Women.
“I think once people hear this story, they will understand her grace and courage and want to help,” Gawronski said.