Hi Everyone,

Last night was AMAZING! IMPORTANT NOTE: Caitlin photographed Corey’s night. For those of you on Facebook, we will be posting before the weekend. PS – The unedited pictures were amazing…I can’t wait to see the final prints!

We arrived at Not Your Average Joe’s at 3:30 and were greeted by Vittoria Woodill of CBS Channel 3 news along with Chef Mike and his staff. Chef Mike presented Corey with her custom monogrammed Chef’s coat along with a NYAJ baseball hat (which he pointed out, only the Chef’s wear). We ‘suited’ up, then sat for a private interview with Vittoria before we headed to the kitchen.

Once we were back in the kitchen, Corey started preparing the house focaccia bread, their specialty dessert (key lime pie) and homemade whipped cream. I was incredibly impressed with Chef Mike. He watched Corey as they worked side by side. He carefully assessed her abilities. He quickly noticed her focus, stance, arm and hand movements. He was instructing her step by step but would add, ‘now use your left hand to stretch the dough away from you as you use the right hand to pull it towards you’. He encouraged her to be aggressive, ‘don’t worry, you can’t hurt the dough, it likes to be kneaded'(and quickly joked, ‘don’t we all’). Corey’s smile lifted everyone’s spirit. The energy in the kitchen was electric. Staff came back to watch her work and hear her story; a few asked if they could take selfie’s with her since she was a guest celebrity Chef!

Corey stood for over 90 minutes before WE made her sit and take a water break. She wanted to keep going but Chef Mike was asked to come out and help expedite the orders because the restaurant was filling up! They told us they brought on extra staff because they had over a 100 in reservations. We decided on her short break to use the ladies room, greet some guests and then meet Chef Mike on the line. Before we left the back of the kitchen, the staff reported their tables were asking for the bread and dessert Corey made! You should have seen her smile then!

Next shift was at the brick oven station in the front of the house. The line and brick oven station can be seen by the diners tables. Several people came up to watch Corey prepare more dough, use the rolling pin to stretch it and learn to make flatbread pizza’s along with regular pizza’s. Needless to say, there was a rush on flatbreads! She and Chef Mike almost couldn’t keep up. He turned to her and asked, ‘how are you holding up? ready to quit”? She looked offended, “QUIT! I’m not going to quit I’m in the Zone”! Four flatbreads and 2 round pizza’s later, we could see her knee’s starting to get weak and suggested she sit and order dinner. Of course on the way to our table, she made the rounds and said hello to our friends that came out to celebrate this amazing cause and survivor. She is a ROCK STAR!

At the end of the night, we figured out Corey stood for over 3hrs; which is an all time record for the last 5 years. The manager told us they doubled the sales they typically report for a Tuesday night and decided to give 15% for every ticket whether or not each table mentioned the HARNESS HOUSE project. Prior to the event, I thought we’d arrive by 3:30 and leave no later than 7:30 thinking that would be all Corey could handle…Corey didn’t sit down until 8:00 for dinner and we left the restaurant at 9:30!

I can’t begin to tell you how surreal this experience was for our family. Vittoria asked if I could try to describe it.
M – First and foremost, I have never been in denial of Corey’s injuries or abilities. That being said, I have always treated her as if it was the day before the accident primarily because part of me couldn’t accept the thought of Corey not living a full life. Although I was aware of her limitations and struggles, on the outside I project nothing but confidence. Of course she’ll go to college, of course she’ll walk, have a social life with friends and someday a boyfriend, get married and become a Chef. But on the inside, I secretly wonder and hope these statements will come true. The really hard days, the frustrations, the fights we have with her and the struggles to get the services she needs are worth it for this ONE experience and every accomplishment she achieves.

Vittoria asked Corey what she would tell others that might be struggling like she does?
C – Even if it gets hard, you just have to keep going because there’s no turning back. I work hard everyday and look (palm up with a gentle shoulder shrug) I’m here!

Not Your Average Joe’s will be donating 15% of your dinner or lunch check every Tuesday for the rest of the month (15th, 22nd and 29th). If you missed her last night, you can see our ‘Chef Corey’ in action on the 22nd.
The proceeds will go to the University of Delaware’s Go Baby Go HARNESS HOUSE research project. The first of it’s kind in the country. 5.3 million people live with permanent disabilities from TBI. The data from this research project with help thousands of those survivors regain mobility and function needed to reclaim their independence.

Never Give Up and Never Give In xoxo