This year marked the fourth for the charity campaign known as Beer to the Rescue. This year-long effort continues to raise awareness and funds for the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC) behind the generous support of San Diego breweries as well as bars and restaurants that carry their liquid wares. I’m still flabbergasted by the immense support we receive from businesses of all sizes, many of which have plenty of their own problems to deal with yet find the time to help people in need. For me, it is one of the most special aspects of this industry and it makes me even more proud to be a part of it.
When I founded Beer to the Rescue in 2014, I had just been diagnosed with lupus after suffering its symptoms and being misdiagnosed for nearly a decade. I was uneducated on this somewhat mysterious autoimmune disease and felt like I had nowhere to turn. The only thing I was really sure of during that unsure time of my life was that I wanted to do more than be a victim of lupus. I wanted to fight it and I wanted to make a difference. As one person, that would be difficult, but having seen the way local brewers have historically rallied around good causes, I felt there might be a chance
they’d get on board if I started a charity campaign for the local chapter of the Lupus Foundation. And did they ever!
In 2015, Beer to the Rescue’s first year, we held nearly 30 fundraisers, brewing well over a dozen collaboration beers in the process. That initial run earned more than $40,000 for the LFSC and proved the potential of the campaign. Each year since has been studded with successes both big and small. No matter the size of the brewery or their contribution to the cause, every event we hold and every charity beer these businesses are kind enough to produce moves the needle and makes a difference for people who really need a helping hand.
This year’s campaign consisted of nearly 50 events, kicking off with Hamilton’s Tavern‘s Second Saturday with Karl Strauss Brewing and closing with a celebratory toast at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. In between, Beer to the Rescue volunteers spent time at brewery tasting rooms and craft-beer venues throughout San Diego County. We hoisted numerous one-time-only and new-release beers tapped just for the cause, and even had a hand in a few collaborations, including Over Under rye IPA from Ballast Point Brewing, Lion’s Blood triple IPA from Nickel Beer Co., Slippery When Brett from Amplified Ale Works and Stone Liberty Station’s Holiday Armadillo IPA with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and orange peel.
We’re still tallying the total funds raised for the year, but it will range in the tens of thousands and go toward the complimentary educational and support services the LFSC provides people living with lupus in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties, as well as research efforts and scholarship funds for lupus-stricken collegians. It was worth every bit of time spent organizing and attending events, and doing other time-consuming tasks behind the scenes…but it didn’t come without a price.
The most difficult aspect of running this campaign for people who have lupus is the fact that I am a person who has lupus. For those unfamiliar, it is a chronic, incurable condition for which there are minimal treatments and pharmaceutical options. It rears its ugly head at the worst times—the times that are stressful—and like most people, I have more than my fair share of stress. Sadly, a significant portion of it comes from Beer to the Rescue and the work that goes into making it, its events and its back-end stuff happen. That isn’t the only stressor, of course. I work a full-time job leading marketing efforts for Societe Brewing, serve on committees for industry-related groups, and write well over 200 articles per year for West Coaster and other publications. On top of vocational obligations, I also try to have some form of a life with friends and family, and be a good husband and father. It’s a lot and, I hate to say it, but it’s more than I can handle most of the time.
I’ve spent nearly half of 2018 in a state known as a “flare” (the word used to describe when someone with lupus is experiencing significant to extreme symptoms). Everybody who has lupus experiences a different assortment of symptoms as the immune system is tied into the entire human body, but when people ask me what it’s like when I have a flare, I tell them it’s akin to having a really bad form of the flu. What I mean by that is I get feverish, experience muscle aches, joint pain, burning eyes, headaches, nerve pain, skin sensitivity, rashes, gastrointestinal distress and extreme exhaustion. These all occur together, making for a rather debilitating state. An unrelated condition I suffer from also causes me to experience pains in my head which feel like excruciating electric shocks. They come in rapid succession, sometimes as often as dozens per minute, and since they are stress-related as well, make everything worlds worse.
I am under the care of several specialists who recommend that, when I feel symptoms coming on or am in a full-on flare, I should rest. This is good advice and I take it to the best of my abilities, but were I to rest as much as would be necessary to end a flare, I would not be able to lead a productive life from an employment standpoint. I have always been a very driven person; someone who derives much of their pleasure and self-worth from accomplishing work-related tasks and coming through for my employers, my co-workers and myself. I push myself very hard, which is a terrible thing for me to do as someone afflicted with lupus. But even if I simply came to work, did my job to the minimal requirements and went home, lupus would prohibit me from being effective.
And this doesn’t even touch on my life outside of work. My interests beyond my jobs have all been impacted. Even simple things like cooking or playing music have fallen further by the wayside then I’d like. The toughest recreational pursuit to accept the diminishment of is hiking. I love to hike, but not only do the flares make it difficult to get to a state where I am able to, the act of hiking (plus the sun, another major lupus trigger) wears me down and significantly increases the probability of falling into a flare. No part of me wants to do the math of how much time I’ve lost feeling miserable and having to lay low, how many events I’ve wanted to attend but had to cancel on (including Beer to the Rescue fundraisers), how much exercise I’ve missed out on as I become less of the healthy, vibrant person I’ve been and want to be, how much my eyesight has deteriorated as a side effect of my daily drug regimen, or the years that may have been cut off of my life all because of lupus. The answers aren’t good ones. To be fair, a lot of that has to do with me trying to defy lupus; to live my life the way I want to versus how lupus dictates that I must. It’s my nature to resist, to defy, to compete, and it is so hard to realize that lupus is not like other obstacles I’ve been able to overcome. It will win, but I’m learning.
I’ve struggled with being easier on myself but of late I have found ways to do so; lessening certain obligational burdens, working smarter instead of harder, giving myself permission not to kill myself (it makes me sad that there is a literal air of truth to this would-be figurative statement). Even so, the flares keep coming. That’s not out of the ordinary. My condition will only get worse as I age, as my immune system continues to repeatedly attack my body, mistakenly believing its eradicating some foreign, unhealthful intruder. And with the exception of the aforementioned rashes (and a tired, downtrodden look people close to me are able to associate with a flare), I’ll look normal while all of this is happening.
A primary commiseration among people living with lupus is that the rest of the world doesn’t understand what they’re going through and will say things like, “you look fine.” I actually take things the other way. Not wanting to be mired in the muck of my condition or make people uncomfortable, I go out of my way to act like everything’s OK, or like I’m happy, joking to compensate for the weariness and pain I’m actually feeling. The truth is, sickness like this tends to make people feel uncomfortable or sympathetically sad. I know, because this year I made a New Year’s resolution to respond honestly when people ask me, “how’s it going” or “how are you?” It’s depressing to see the downturned eyes, frowns and uncomfortableness that follow my honest answers. The nice thing is, as bad as those responses are, they come from a good place. The empathy those people feel is because they care and, if there is a bright side to having lupus, it has showed me just how many people care about me. I see that as a gift and am thankful for it. It’s particularly gratifying to see that compassion manifest itself through peoples’ support of Beer to the Rescue, because nice people are what makes it go…not one guy with lupus.
So why mar an article about all the good this campaign and the brewers who support it do for the LFSC and the people it serves by going into my personal pain? I believe that, while Beer to the Rescue has been successful at lifting the word “lupus” into more peoples’ medical lexicon and alerting scores of local craft beer fans to its existence, sharing my story, my trials and the realities of this autoimmune scourge lets you all in on why a campaign and foundation like this are important. Moreover, it lets all the people who have kindly donated to the cause or supported it in numerous other ways know why their efforts are so important and so appreciated.
On behalf of the LFSC, Beer to the Rescue and myself, I would like to thank the countless San Diegans who have made a difference via this campaign. You give people with lupus hope that someday things will be better and make the time spent in the meantime better in so many ways. Cheers and thank you!
- 2kids Brewing—Miramar (2 years)
- 32 North Brewing—Miramar (3 years)
- AleSmith Brewing—Miramar (1 year)
- Amplified Ale Works—Pacific Beach, Miramar, East Village (3 years)
- Aztec Brewery—Vista (1 year)
- Bagby Beer Co.—Oceanside (1 year)
- Ballast Point Brewing—Little Italy, Miramar, Scripps Ranch (2 years)
- BattleMage Brewing—Vista (1 year)
- Bay City Brewing—Point Loma (4 years)
- Bear Roots Brewing—Vista (3 years)
- Belching Beaver Brewery—Oceanside, Vista, North Park (2 years)
- Benchmark Brewing—Grantville (4 years)
- Bitter Brothers Brewing—Bay Ho (1 year)
- Booze Brothers Brewing—Vista (4 years)
- Burgeon Beer Co.—Carlsbad (1 year)
- ChuckAlek Independent Brewers—North Park (1 year)
- Coronado Brewing—Bay Park (1 year)
- Council Brewing—Kearny Mesa (3 years)
- Division 23 Brewing—Miramar (2 years)
- Dos Desperados Brewery—San Marcos (2 years)
- Duck Foot Brewing—Miramar, East Village (4 years)
- Eppig Brewing—Point Loma (1 year)
- Fallbrook Brewing—Fallbrook (2 years)
- Gordon Biersch—Mission Valley (3 years)
- Green Flash Brewing—Mira Mesa, Poway (2 years)
- Half Door Brewing—East Village (1 year)
- Home Brewing—North Park (1 year)
- Indian Joe Brewing—Vista (2 years)
- Intergalactic Brewing—Miramar (1 year)
- Iron Fist Brewing—Vista (1 year)
- Kilowatt Brewing—Miramar, Ocean Beach (4 years)
- Lightning Brewery—Poway (1 year)
- Little Miss Brewing—Miramar (1 year)
- Mason Ale Works—Oceanside, Rancho Bernardo, San Marcos (4 years)
- Mike Hess Brewing—North Park (1 year)
- Mission Brewery—East Village (1 year)
- Monkey Paw Brewing—East Village (1 year)
- Mother Earth Brewing—Vista (1 year)
- New English Brewing—Sorrento Valley (3 years)
- Nickel Beer Co.—Julian (4 years)
- North Park Beer Co.—North Park (2 years)
- Oceanside Ale Works—Oceanside (1 year)
- Oggi’s—Countywide (1 year)
- Pacific Islander Beer Co.—Santee (1 year)
- Papa Marce’s Cerveceria—Carlsbad (1 year)
- Pariah Brewing—North Park (2 years)
- Pizza Port—Solana Beach (1 year)
- Pure Project Brewing—Miramar (3 years)
- Resident Brewing—Downtown (2 years)
- Rip Current Brewing—San Marcos, North Park (3 years)
- Rouleur Brewing—Carlsbad (1 year)
- Savagewood Brewing—Scripps Ranch (1 year)
- Second Chance Beer Co.—Carmel Mountain Ranch, North Park (2 years)
- Societe Brewing—Kearny Mesa (3 years)
- South Park Brewing—South Park (1 year)
- Stone Brewing—Escondido, Liberty Station (4 years)
- Thorn St. Brewery—North Park (3 years)
- Toolbox Brewing—Vista (1 year)
- Twisted Manzanita Ales—Santee (1 year)
- Wavelength Brewing—Vista (1 year)
- White Labs—Miramar (3 years)