By Sue Ann Rybak

Chestnut Hill Brewing Company, 8231 Germantown Ave., is crafting a special beer for a cause. The owners Nick Gunderson and Lindsey Pete have partnered with Today is a Good Day to brew a limited edition IPA to raise funds for the nonprofit, whose mission is to provide personal and financial support for families with babies in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

Celebrating their new partnership (from left), Chestnut Hill Brewing Company owners Lindsey Pete and Nick Gunderson, and Today is a Good Day co-founder Martha Sharkey, toast with a pint of beer brewed specifically for Sharkey’s organization.

Chestnut Hill Brewing and Today is a Good Day will be hosting a free kick-off event and tapping the first keg of the limited edition beer on March 6, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will be karaoke from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Chestnut Hill Brewing Co. will donate 10 percent of all food and drink sales to Today is a Good Day.

“Nick Gunderson and Lindsey Pete and the Chestnut Hill Brewing Co. are wonderful partners with Today is a Good Day,” said Martha Sharkey, co-founder of Today is a Good Day. “We are really looking forward to tasting this new IPA [India pale ale, a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale]. 

Sharkey, former executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business Association (CHBA), said the kick-off event, which will coincide with First Friday on the Hill, is a great opportunity for people to get together, have fun and raise funds to support a great cause.

Owners Pete and Gunderson met Sharkey when she worked at the CHBA. Pete said Sharkey asked them to sample beer when they attended one of her Pints for Preemies events when it was held at Magerks. 

“Pints for Preemies is our signature fundraising event that we host every year,” said Sharkey, of Wyndmoor. “We hosted it at Magerks Pub and Grill in Fort Washington for two years before we moved it to Flourtown Country Club because we outgrew the space. Now, we welcome over 300 people to this fun night out with beer and wine tastings, food, music, a silent auction and a raffle.

“Martha reached out to us this year, and said she wanted to do something special for their fifth anniversary,” Pete said. “She wanted to make a Today is a Good Day IPA. We thought it would be a great partnership, and we wanted to support Martha, her family and Today is a Good Day. 

The Local asked Pete to give us the inside scoop on the unique flavor of Today is a Good Day IPA. She said her husband Gunderson used three different types of Hops: Amarillo, simcoe and ekuanot in the beer which gives it “the floral aromas and citrus and lemon and orange flavors.” 

“People love the IPA, and it’s also Martha’s favorite style of beer,” she said. “While Today is a Good Day IPA is on tap, we will donate 10 percent of that beer sale [to Today is a Good Day]. We are hoping that it [the IPA] will last until the Pints for Preemies event on April 4. We are sampling it at the event, so we want to make sure to set a keg a side for that event.

“We are very grateful to be able to give back, and we are definitely very appreciative of all our customers who give us the support we need,” Pete said. 

Sharkey said she and her husband, Paul Sharkey, started Today is a Good Day in 2014 after recognizing a gap in care for families with babies in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. 

The Sharkey’s know first-hand what it’s like to have a baby in the NICU. On Nov. 14, 2010. Martha gave birth to identical twin girls who were born extremely premature at just 23 weeks and five days. 

Their daughters Claire Josephine, who is now nine years old, was born at 12:35 p.m. and weighed 1 pound, 2 ounces; Mary Gladys was born at 12:36 p.m. and weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces. The Sharkeys were still trying to process the trauma of having two premature babies in the NICU when they met 3-year-old Sam Muscatello, a former 23-week-old NICU baby and his mother at a lunch event at the hospital for current NICU families.

Martha Sharkey said meeting Sam gave them hope for the future, even after their daughter Mary passed away just a week later on Nov. 28. Their other daughter Claire weighed only 15 ounces at that time, but Sam Muscatello gave them hope. 

She recalled how they would say – especially on difficult days — “Sam Muscatello was successful. Claire can be successful.”

 When the Sharkeys initially founded the nonprofit, they focused on providing personal and financial support for families of premature babies in NICU, but they have since expanded their mission to include parents of all babies in the NICU. 

She said they learned through their experience with their son, William Richard, who was diagnosed with trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, a common chromosomal disorder due to the presence of an extra chromosome 18 that not all babies in the NICU are premature. 

“It’s difficult for any family no matter how much time you spend in the NICU,” she said. “It’s not where you expect to be.”

Sharkey said one of her favorite parts of Today is a Good Day program is hosting their “listening sessions and being able to meet with other families and talk to them about the challenges they are facing, not only hearing how they are doing, but also being able to show them photos of Claire from when she was born at 15 ounces to where she is today.” 

“I feel really blessed to be able to work with so many wonderful volunteers, businesses and companies and organizations all dedicated to the mission of Today is a Good Day,” she said. “I still get emotional when I look at Claire and how far she has come from her 15 ounces and not knowing what her future would look like to this wonderful nine-year-old who is playing guitar and swimming.”

Pints for Preemies tickets are available at www.todayisagoodday.org. They are $75 a person until March 11. After that the ticket price goes up to $100 per person.

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