WHO: Philanthropist, animal rescuer and senior manager of the Dream Ride Experience, Megan Weinberger
WHAT: The Tito’s “Toretto” cocktail, paired with the General Tso’s Cauliflower (vegetarian and gluten free), flash-fried and tossed in classic sweet and spicy sauce; the Avocado Toast of avocado mash, tomato, pecan wood bacon, pickled red onions, mizuna and sunny side up egg on thick-cut multigrain bread; and the Korean Pork Ribs, marinated for 24 hours, slow roasted, then chargrilled with kimchee and chili-soy dipping sauces.
WHERE: The Cooper Craft Kitchen & Bar at PGA Commons / 4610 PGA Blvd., Ste. 100, Palm Beach Gardens / 561.622.0032 / thecooperrestaurant.com / @the_cooper_restaurant
When I was a kid and my mom converted our garage into an animal rescue, I thought: that it was normal because I was very young at the time. My parents owned a furniture store in Alpena, Michigan, and I remember them rescuing animals and bringing them home in the furniture truck. When they first got started it was the only transportation they had. We eventually developed a collection of dogs, cats, horses and even goats.
The Special Olympics are special to me because: when I was young my parents adopted my two sisters, Kristi and Louise, who had Downs Syndrome. They had been living in a shack with no windows. My parents would pick them and other kids up on Wednesdays and Sundays to take them to church and to youth group. Eventually, we adopted them. The Special Olympics are so special because everyone is so encouraging of each other; so supportive of each other.
Something that I wish everyone knew about the Dream Ride Experience is: that it creates a social world and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for these very special people they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to have in life. They have their own “red-carpet” experience where they are the celebrities. Everyone is a winner. Everyone gets to experience and share the joy.
Because of the Cars & Cocktails event, I myself have learned: how amazing it feels to bring people with intellectual and physical disabilities together with so many people in our community. Many of them become friends and keep in touch throughout life. I’ve learned there’s a lot of good in the world, and a lot of good people that want to help these very special athletes. I’ve learned that if we all do a little bit, a lot of good can happen.
Now in her sixth year with the Dream Ride Experience, Weinberger leads the Florida team through the annual Cars and Cocktails winter gala, which will be held this year on Feb. 2 at PGA National Resort & Spa. Founded by Michael A. Bozzuto, Dream Ride is a faction of The Hometown Foundation Inc., a non-profit, charitable foundation devoted to “enhancing the quality of life for individuals and their families, honoring and assisting in six key areas of interest: children in need, major illness, intellectual disabilities, military, emergency response personnel and animal welfare.” Weinberger is also the president of Rescue Life, a non-profit organization committed to rescuing, protecting and caring for numerous animal species. Along with her husband, Eric, two children and approximately 100 animals, Weinberger resides in Palm Beach Gardens.
TIto’s Handmade Vodka “Toretto”:
1.5 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka
0.5 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
0.5 ounce Aperol
0.5 ounce simple syrup
2 to 3 jalapeño slices
2 to 3 cilantro sprigs
Muddle together, shake, double strain over one large ice cube and garnish with strawberry and jalapeño slices.