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11/23/2014 11:00 PM

'Claire's' Author, Restaurateur Hosts NB 'Hearts of Hope' Benefit Shopping Night Dec. 13

On Dec. 13, join North Branford sisters Alex Bode (front, left) and Sam Bode (front, second from left) during a 'Hearts of Hope' Shopping Night to benefit research and awareness through Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance.

PRESS RELEASE: Local icon, author and restaurant owner Claire Criscuolo will host this year’s annual Hearts of Hope Holiday Shopping Night at the Caruso-Bode family home in North Branford to benefit and raise awareness for a rare disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA).

Enjoy an evening with Claire Criscuolo talking about healthy food choices. Shop, eat and visit with friends from near and far. All proceeds from the night benefit non-profit Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA). Hearts of Hope Shopping Night will take place Sat. Dec 13, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 1 North Street, North Branford.

In 1995 when Mary Caruso heard the words Friedreich’s Ataxia as a diagnosis for her then eight-year-old daughter Sam, she was filled with confusion, fear and disbelief. As they made it through the initial mourning phase and onto the second diagnosis of her younger daughter, Alex, their lives were changed forever.

Friedreich’s Ataxia is a life shortening, progressive and devastating disease. It robs people of their ability to walk, talk and use their hands appropriately. It causes heart disease, diabetes, hearing loss and blindness.

Although the road has been challenging, as a family they continue their efforts to find a treatment and a chance for the girls to fight for their lives. Over the past 19 years research has forged ahead and made huge strides. A treatment is closer than ever but only because of efforts such as these.

Once again this year, the Caruso-Bode family will open their home for their Shopping Night. This year they are honored and grateful to have Claire Criscuolo join them for the evening. Criscuolo will mingle with the crowd, sign her cookbook and donate 100% of her proceeds to research. The family will once again highlight vendors to sell their wares.  Just a few of the local vendors include: Silpada, Keelin Bret Jewelry, Lovet Shop, Over the Moon Vintage, Enchanted, Mad Hatter, Party Lite and more.

Enjoy live music from local musician Billy Twyford and have great food from the family's North Street neighbors. It will be a night of spirit, friendship and kindness as people come together to celebrate life and efforts toward a cure for Friedreich’s Ataxia. 

For information or to donate to FARA email Mary Caruso at