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Home East Brunswick Sentinel EB News ‘Cake Boss’ star shaves 30-year-old mustache to help grant wishes

‘Cake Boss’ star shaves 30-year-old mustache to help grant wishes

‘Cake Boss’ star shaves 30-year-old mustache to help grant wishes
This Make a Wish greeter had cupcakes for everyone who had attended the Danny Shaved his Mustache event on August 9, 2017

MONROE — With the buzz of a razor and the finishing touches with a brush, Danny Dragone received a smooth shave of his decades-old mustache.

With the help of his friend, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, Dragone got rid of his facial hair as part of a $25,000 pledge to the Make-A-Wish Foundation New Jersey Chapter.

Wish children and their families, volunteer student groups from area high schools and colleges, and the staff and board from Make-A-Wish started chants of “Off with the ‘Stache” at the Samuel and Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place in Monroe on Aug. 9.

Tom Weatherall, president and chief executive officer of Make-A-Wish New Jersey, said Dragone issued a challenge that he would only shave his mustache if the organization raised $25,000.

It was announced $18,750 had been raised at the beginning of the event.

“It is a little past 11 a.m. and we have a little more to do,” Weatherall said. “The world is watching on social media.”

Evil Fades Barbershop in Millstone was on hand to help with the shave.

“The unfortunate thing is, [the mustache] will probably grow back in a day,” Valastro joked.

Weatherall said the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s mission statement is very simple.

“We grant wishes to children with life threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience, hope, strength and joy,” he said.

He said Valastro has been a man of his word, granting wishes of children who want to meet the Cake Boss.

“Anytime we have called him and said Buddy we need you … he has said ‘Yes.’ He’s a man of his word,” he said.

“Every time I come here to Make-A-Wish, I always feel at home. I feel like family,” Valastro, who is an honorary Make-A-Wish New Jersey board member, said as he made his way into the castle.

Valastro, who was the first celebrity to grant a wish at the Monroe location, said it melts his heart to know that children have chosen to spend time with him as their one wish.

Since 2010, Valastro, owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken and star of TLC’s reality show “Cake Boss,” has granted close to 70 wishes.

“My niece was asked to have a wish. … I know how much it meant to her and you know it’s something that is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “It’s something you can’t truly understand until you see it, until you grant a wish, until you are a part of it. [That’s when you] can really feel it what it really means.”

As part of the event, the royal court from Medieval Times, a lady in colorful costume walking with a table of cupcakes, another lady in colorful costume walking on stilts, a balloon artist and a barbershop quartet welcomed wish children and their families.

“We’re really excited to be here. This place just gives me goosebumps when I come in because it’s so beautiful, amazing, and it’s right here in New Jersey. I love it.”

Also during the event, a video was played of Valastro’s first wish he granted to Michelle, a high school junior with neurofibromatosis. Michelle has since passed away.

On the wish, Valastro and Michelle baked a “Lost”-themed cake based around the television show.

Valastro said it made him cry watching the video of Michelle’s wish.

“When I got that first call to grant a wish for Michelle, it was a rush wish,” he said, explaining that a rush wish is for a terminally ill child, meaning the wish had to happen in the coming weeks.

Valastro said granting Michelle’s wish changed his life. That is when he decided to become part of the experience.

“Michelle and I would text each other for like three weeks after,” he said. “Everyday we would have a little conversation or whatever. It meant so much to me and from what her family tells me, it meant so much to her.”

After the video was played, it was announced that $20,765 was raised. That is when Francis X. Bolte, Make-A-Wish New Jersey Board chair, pledged $5,000 so that the challenge would surpass its goal.

Weatherall also announced that a long-time Make-A-Wish donor, Fedway Associates, Inc., pledged to match the $25,000.

Valastro said he sees first hand where the donations go.

“To see the looks on these kids’ faces and their families, who have been through hell and back, it literally is the real deal,” he said. “I would not be standing here if [the money goes elsewhere]. … In honor of that I’m going to donate $5,000 as well.”

Valastro’s donation garnered applause from the crowd gathered to watch Dragone get his mustache shaved.

The New Jersey Chapter of Make-A-Wish is in its fourth decade of making dreams a reality for seriously ill children. Since 1983, the New Jersey Chapter has granted more than 9,500 wishes to children throughout the Garden State. This year, the chapter has granted 515 wishes so far.

For more information, about Make-A-Wish New Jersey, visit nj.wish.org.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.