Imagine an event with great music, food from local specialty restaurants and handmade cocktails from local distillers, and all this to recognize and benefit a group of people that are courageous and strong. It all started when a young man named Daniel Curtis slipped while diving into a pool and ended up paralyzed.
Daniel was on the road to becoming a success in the food and beverage industry and after his accident, having any involvement with the industry, requiring full use of one’s body, seemed to be grim. Instead of giving up, Daniel decided to turn his situation into something positive, something inspiring and a way to truly help others by organizing an annual event to promote local Austin restaurants and distillers and to raise awareness and money for The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation, whose mission is to cure spinal cord paralysis.
The room was filled with dozens of Austin’s best restaurants’ samplings including Tre Trattoria, Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Bin 555 and Olive&June. The Tipsy Texan, David Alan was busy at his sponsored bar helping to create one of a kind cocktails for guests. David and Daniel Curtis actually began their careers in the food and beverage industry working together at Katz’s Deli years ago. Daniel Barnes, distiller and owner of Treaty Oak Distilling Co. was also at the bar serving Starlite Vodka and Waterloo Gin, both winners of gold medals at the Beverly Hills World Spirits Competition! Many local artists and businesses generously donated items to the benefit’s silent auction including a guitar signed by Ray Benson, an original painting by George Hampton, a spa package by Urban Betty and a tooth and stone necklace created by jewelry artist Charlotte Harrigan.
Daniel Curtis started the annual Pay It Forward event after working together with friends, family and the community to raise money to pay his hefty medical expenses after his accident several years ago. Daniel’s new mission in life is to give back and return all the good deeds and sacrifices that have been made on his behalf. When I asked Daniel what the biggest motivation was that kept him from giving up after his accident, when he found himself no longer able to walk, he said it was the sense of “community.” Daniel explained that the gym at the Seton Spine and Brain Recovery Center offered a gym for him to go and work toward a goal each day and get the support and encouragement he needed to keep going, day by day. And now, Daniel is giving back to show his appreciation for the help he has received over the years with the Pay It Forward benefit to help fund advanced recovery therapy scholarships, rehabilitation equipment, adaptive sports programs, research and outreach and support for those with new injuries.