Ali b[EATs] Cancer

$40,233 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 408 people in 5 months
In 2004, at the age of just four years old, Ali was diagnosed with a cancer known as Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It was a long and tough battle that combined months of chemotherapy treatment followed by intense and painful radiation.

At that time, social media was limited to texting and email so the news and progress of his recovery was limited to immediate family and a handful of close friends. Those that knew about the diagnosis wanted to help Ali and reached out to his mom, Jen, to offer assistance, but she didn't even know where to begin to ask for help. At the time she was struggling to keep up with her full time job on Army active duty, attend to the needs of her two younger children ages 2 and 3 and ensure Ali had everything he needed to beat the cancer. Thankfully, Ali was victorious and when he was finally deemed cancer-free on April 11, 2005, the family breathed a deep sigh of relief and cautiously waited until they hit that magic 5 year window of remission.

On April 11, 2010, five years to the exact date of his cancer-free prognosis, Ali and Jen celebrated with the biggest ice cream cookie cake that has ever been made and marked the momentous day with a tattoo on Jen's wrist. The tattoo simply reads "04-11-10" and Jen would look at it every day thanking God for the blessings of a healthy child. So, the family took off running and living life thinking they would never look back on cancer again. Unfortunately, as life would have it, in July 2017 two days before his 17th birthday, Ali was diagnosed with another type of cancer, osteosarcoma, a bone cancer  located in his right scapula (shoulder blade).  His friends were amazing and they immediately shaved their heads in support and threw Ali a huge surprise birthday party.  It was a terrific send-off just before chemotherapy began.  

One of the hardest pieces of information to comprehend is that this secondary cancer was most likely the result of the radiation Ali received to treat his Hodgkin's Lymphoma 13 years earlier. The family was devastated and Ali and Jen found themselves reliving the nightmare all over again.  Ali started chemotherapy in July and he will continue through September. The first half of the chemotherapy treatments will be followed by a very intense and complicated surgery the first week in October to remove his shoulder blade and replace it with a cadaver bone. Soon after surgery, Ali will begin chemotherapy all over again.  It's a daunting thing for a young man to face in the prime of his life.

So what do you say to a 17 year old diagnosed twice with cancer who loves to play basketball, lifts weights daily, hangs out nightly with his tight-knit group of friends and has a genuine passion for preparing and eating good food? Do you tell him that he will never be able to play basketball again, lifting weights will be limited to his lower extremities and left arm only, he can't go to school this year because his immune system will be too weak and he will be spending months at a time in the hospital, that he probably won't see his friends much until next summer, and eating won't be enjoyable for the next year? No, you don't have to tell him any of these things because he already knows the painful reality of the situation.  And this is all best case scenario. The other things that could happen along the way are both unfathomable and unmentionable but constantly on the minds of both Ali and Jen. Of course, he's older now and he understands what is to come, what the next year of his life will look like and what will never be again. We can't change the inevitable but we can give Ali something to look forward to along the way, something that will arm him for the battle to come, something hopeful.  Unlike the first war with cancer, Jen now knows what she can say to you, her friends and family, when you ask how you can help. You can help to send Ali and her on a culinary excursion so Ali can EAT his way across the United States! Eating and cooking is Ali's favorite past time and the one passion of his that we can positively affect.

The idea came to Ali one night in the hospital during his second round of chemo while he and Jen were watching his favorite show "Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown." He turned to his mom and he said, "You know, after we get through all of this, once I beat this, we should travel the world and treat ourselves to some good food. You and I deserve that after all we have been through together." The next day a map was purchased, pinned to the hospital wall and sticky notes, push-pins and arrows started appearing all over the map as Ali began identifying the restaurant(s) he wants to visit in every state as soon as his taste buds come back and he can keep food down. With the help of the AMAZING staff on the 3W Pediatric Ward at Walter Reed and their food recommendations, Ali was able to complete the map during his latest visit to the hospital.  And now he has a plan!

It's given him a purpose, a goal and something to look forward to when he is finally cancer-free again for the second time. He reviews the map daily, looks at online blogs of the restaurants and scans the menus daily planning what he will order at each location. He told his mom that he dreams about some of these restaurants and the amazing creations of their chefs. The idea of this excursion has given him a new found motivation and renewed strength to stay strong to fight this cancer.

Here is the list of Ali's preferred restaurants by state:

Alabama: Highlands Bar and Grill 
Alaska: The Marx Bros Cafe 
Arizona: Criollo 
Arkansas: The Cliff House Inn 
California: San Francisco Quince/ Los Angeles Grand Central Market , Kogi BBQ Food Truck , In-N-Out Burger  / San Diego South Beach Bar and Grill , Sako's Mediterranean Cuisine , Phil's BBQ 
Colorado: Black Cat 
Connecticut: Homestead Inn 
Delaware: a(MUSE.) 
District of Columbia: Old Europe 
Florida: Miami Joe's Stone Crab / Key West El Siboney 
Georgia: Bacchanalia 
Hawaii: Umeke's  and  Ka'aloas Super J's 
Idaho: The Modern Hotel and Bar 
Illinois: Alinea and Gino's East 
Indiana: Milktooth 
Iowa: Proof and Iowa State Fair Food 
Kansas: Joe's Kansas City BBQ 
Kentucky: Harvest 
Louisiana: Commander's Palace and Emeril's 
Maine: Fore Street 
Maryland: Mandalay Resturant & Cafe 
Massachusetts: Union Oyster House 
Michigan: Muldoon's Pasties 
Minnesota: Spoon and Stable 
Mississippi: City Grocery 
Missouri: Bluestem 
Montana: Lucca's and Sip & Dip Lounge 
Nebraska: The Boiler Room 
Nevada: The Buffet at Wynn  and The Bellagio Buffet 
New Hampshire: Moxy 
New Jersey: Cafe 2825 
New Mexico: El Pinto 
New York: Souvlaki GR , Manousheh and Patacon Pisao 
North Carolina: Durham Picnic / Davidson Kindred 
North Dakota: Helena Mezzaluna / Great Falls Kroll's Diner 
Ohio: The Orchids at Palm Court 
Oklahoma: Cheever's 
Oregon: Kachka 
Pennsylvania: Abe Fisher , D'Alessandro's Steaks and Hoagies and Reading Terminal Market 
Rhode Island: Bouchard Resturant and Inn 
South Carolina: Columbia Cola / Charleston Hominy Grill 
South Dakota: Meridian Corner 
Tennessee: Central BBQ 
Texas: Austin Franklin BBQ / San Antonio Biga on the Banks 
Utah: MeditrinaThe Kathmandu and Spitz 
Vermont: Hen of the Wood 
Virginia: Inn at Little Washington 
Washington: Canlis 
West Virginia: Lot 12 Public House 
Wisconsin: Ardent 
Wyoming: Snake River Grill 
Somewhere overseas, maybe Tokyo, Japan!

Money raised will cover the cost of airfare to various locations and the cost of the meals. Jen and Ali will drive  to resturants in the mid-Atlantic and east coast and they will cluster restaurants in various states staying with family and friends whenever possible in order to cut down on costs. If you have any ideas on how to make these visits possible or you have connections at these locations or other recommended restaurants please let us know.

Let's do our best to send Ali and Jen to every state where they can enjoy some amazing food together in honor of another courageous and victorious fight against cancer!

Please help Ali b[EATs] Cancer while he EATs his way across the United States!
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Back at Walter Reed Hospital for an unexpected surgery. Ali’s clavicle bone has broken through his shoulder. Doctors are going in today to shave the clavicle bone back and remove that compromised and weakened skin. Hopefully, this will be the last surgery on his shoulder. Once this is complete it will be back to chemo for another couple of months and perhaps some food stops in between treatments. Thanks for all of your support through this process! Looking forward to all of this being over so we can start our travels!
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Lunch with a Famous Chef: Just before Christmas, Ali and our whole family received a special invitation to lunch a Chef José Andrés home thanks to Roxana from The Invisble Hand. Chef Andrés owns minibar, Jaleo, The Bazaar and several dozen more restaurants across the states. He, his wife and daughters were all so warm and welcoming. We chatted about his native Spain, his love of cooking and his recent work with his charity World Central Kitchen feeding Puerto Rio after hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage across the Caribbean. For lunch he served lots of various breads, cheese and tapas and for the main meal he made the most delicious foie gras and black truffle cannelloni! Dessert was a beautiful green tea cake with at least 8 layers. And then, as if the visit hadn’t already been amazing enough, Chef Andrés FaceTimed both of his good friends Anthony Bourdain and Emeril Lagasse to chat with Ali. It was an amazing surprise. Enjoy these cute videos (posted with permission from Chef Andrés ). Great memories Ali has taken with him during our recent chemo visits.

Sent from my iPhone
Ali FaceTime with Anthony Bourdain
Ali FaceTime With Emeril Lagasse
Foie gras and black truffle cannelloni
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More photos from dinner at the St Regis Washington DC....
Filleting and slicing the stripped bass
Stripped bass with saffron & potatoes
We all enjoyed watching Ali cook
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It was a wonderful holiday season full of culinary adventures and we can’t wait to share all of our updates with our friends and supporters! After our amazing kick off at Belle Haven Country Club and the exciting segment that Investigative Reporter Whitney Wild aired on WUSA9, we were contacted by Roxana from an organization called The Invisible Hand whose mission is to “provide funding to those Washington DC area residents in need to overcome obstacles preventing them from pursuing constructive endeavors.” Roxana saw the WUSA9 segment on Ali and his goal to eat at one selected restaurant in every state and she wanted to help set up some local culinary opportunities for him while he finishes chemo. Needless to say, Roxana did not disappoint! The first was an exclusive cooking experience for Ali a few days before Christmas followed by a dinner for our whole Allouche-Danko family at the beautiful St. Regis in D.C. Upon arrival, Ali met with Executive Chef Sebastien Giannini, a young French chef who is creative, energetic and obviously passionate about food. In the St. Regis kitchen, Chef Sebastien presented Ali with his own St. Regis chef’s jacket embroidered with his name and the St. Regis logo. After donning his new chef’s jacket, Ali learned how to make a goat cheese, beet, apricot, pecan, and lemon zest salad complete with a delicate portion of fresh honey comb. After the salad, Chef Sebastien showed Ali how to properly scale and filet a beautiful and huge stripped bass. The WUSA9 news crew were there too and the poor camera crew had to stop and clean off the lens after the fillet session; scales flew everywhere. Together Chef Sebastien and Ali prepared the bass in a saffron infused broth with thinly sliced potatoes and stewed tomatoes. The rest of the family was also invited into the kitchen to watch Ali try his hand at cooking. Chef Sebastien was so good at teaching Ali simple, yet refined techniques and at the end of the preparation he even gave Ali one of his own chef jackets. When the “practice” round was complete, the manager showed us out to the private dining room where we all enjoyed the dishes that Chef Sebastien and Ali had prepared. It was the first time our entire family has dressed up and gone out to an upscale fine dining restaurant. The meal was both beautiful and delicious and all of my kids loved it. Who would have thought? Something about getting dressed up and going out has expanded their palates I guess. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity and it was truly the best present we received all year. As we were eating dinner, Roxana, from The Invisble Hand, called to ask how our meal and experience was going. Of course, everything was perfect. Roxana then invited us to a special lunch the following day at Chef José Andres house! More on that amazing experience in the next update. Thank you Roxana, Chef Sebastien, Colleen and the entire St. Regis staff for a wonderful present!
Ali preparing the beet salad
Ali & Chef Sebastien enjoying the salad
Finished product
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$40,233 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 408 people in 5 months
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