Meet Dayton’s ‘Fairy Godmother of Beer,’ who also happens to be a kick-ass fundraiser for charity

Patti Russell-Campbell, our Daytonian of the Week, has three ALS events coming up — and yes, they all involve beer

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The first person to refer to this week’s Daytonian of the Week, Patti Russell-Campbell, as “Dayton’s Fairy Godmother of Beer,” may not have meant it as a compliment.

Patti decided to take it that way anyway.

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“If you can't laugh at yourself, you're a sad person,” Russell-Campbell said. “I can go on and on about beer because it's something I enjoy. It's a GREAT hobby.”

For Patti, beer is more than a hobby, but less than a career. She has judged home-brew competitions through the Beer Judge Certificate Program (BJCP), and with her pink ball-cap, she is a frequent presence at craft breweries and beer bars around town. She is on a first-name basis with local brewers, and when she critiques their newly released brews, they listen attentively to what she has to say.

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And Patti has used her reputation and contacts for a powerfully good cause: research into the degenerative neuromuscular disease ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

We’ll let Patti, our Daytonian of the Week, tell you about it.

Summarize your fund-raising efforts, and how folks have responded to those efforts. 

For the last seven years, I have been raising money for the Dayton Walk to Defeat ALS. I'm not on a team — I raise the money myself. In those seven years, up to this point, I've raised over $13,000. Folks have been GREAT to give ALS their money.

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In the last few years, the beer community has really helped me. The brewery representatives and beer distributors donate various items to be raffled, like T-shirts, glasses, beer signs, etc. Taprooms, bars and restaurants have allowed me to hold events at their place, and they donate a portion of sales on those days to me for the Walk to Defeat ALS.

What events do you have coming up? 

I have three events: On Tuesday, Aug. 6, I'll be at Warped Wing Brewing Company for their "Share a Pint, Make a Difference" from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It's easy to participate: order a pint of beer, and ALS gets money from each pint sold.

On Saturday,  Aug. 10, the Barrel House will host a day-long event. Folks drink beer, buy raffle tickets and win some cool prizes. Gus and Sarah Stathes, owners of The Barrel House, give back to the Dayton community every day. They pick a different charity or organization every month and have a jar on the counter that you can put money into. So in addition to my event there, ALS will be the “Charity of the Month” during August.

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My last event for this year is Monday, Sept. 2 (Labor Day). It will be at Lucky's Taproom and Eatery. You can drink tasty adult beverages, eat some great food, and I'll be doing a 50/50 raffle. A portion of sales will be donated to ALS. Drew Trick, owner of Lucky's, has allowed me to do this event for several years. He also gives back to the community as he's had events for other charities and organizations. I'm really glad for the help in raising money. It's difficult to ask people for money even if it is for a good cause. There are so many good and worthwhile charities out there asking for money. But if you don't ask, you won't get any money. And speaking of that, if anyone wants to donate to this worthy cause but can't attend the events, here's a link that allows you to do just that:

What drives you to raise funds for these causes? 

ALS is a fatal neuromuscular disease commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease. I walk in memory of Debbie Reed. She was funny, and we had quite a few adventures together. She, I and 2 other women would go see The Rolling Stones. We would all leave our husbands at home and rock out, often dancing until we dropped. Then Debbie started to lose her balance and became weaker and weaker.

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After many doctors and lots of tests they determined she has ALS. This deadly disease affects the motor neurons in a person's brain and spinal cord. Gradually, a person is robbed of the ability to walk, speak, eat and eventually breathe. There is no known cure for ALS at this time. The money I and others raise goes for trying to find a cure. Also money is needed to help ALS patients and families with such things as walkers and motorized wheelchairs.

So how DID you get the nickname “The Fairy Godmother of Beer?” 

I'm a judge for Homebrew Competitions through the Beer Judge Certificate Program (BJCP). I used to judge quite a bit but I haven't done it in recent years. But every time I drink a beer I judge it, either in my head or share my comments with whoever's around. A few of us were together at what's known in the Beer World as a Bottle Share and I was judging beers.

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Several of us were talking about the various beers and I was going on and on when one of the women there said something about me being The Fairy Godmother of Beer, and the nickname stuck. It was a little tongue-in-cheek. But that's okay. If you can't laugh at yourself, you're a sad person. I can go on and on about beer because it's something I enjoy. It's a GREAT hobby.

Why did you decide to stay in and settle in the Dayton area? 

I was born in the heart of Dayton and that's probably where I'll die. I love to travel, especially out west to the mountains, but Dayton is it for me. Dayton is a big little city. Over the years, I've been involved with various groups, worked quite a few different jobs. And of course there's our beer community. It's awesome to meet folks in one group and then run into them in another group. Dayton truly is a “6 Degrees of Separation” town. Lots of times, it's more like 3 or 4 Degrees.

What are your favorite places to eat and/or drink in the Dayton area? 

I love so many places in Dayton for food. We're not a huge city, but we do have some food diversity here. As for my favorites, it's what I'm in the mood for. So I'll give you a list of some places: Cheeseburger, Tank's on Wayne; Cabbage Rolls, Angie's on Watervliet; Pizza, Old Scratch, or if it's Dayton Style, it's Marion's; Chicken and Waffles, it's Lucky's; Mexican, it's Elsa's or El Toro; Black Bean burger, it's Trolley Stop; Mediterranean, it’s Olive Mediterranean Grill downtown; Thai, it's Thai 9; Fried Fish and tots, it's Kings Table on Fridays. And of course, the 4-Way at Skyline Chili.

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For bars it's the same, I have a list. Breweries, Branch & Bone on Wayne and Warped Wing downtown. Bars for beer, The Barrel House, Lucky's, and King's Table. Bars for Bourbon and Cocktails, hands down it's The Century Bar. None other will do for me.

What inspires you about Dayton?

As I've said before, we are a big little city so WE ARE A COMMUNITY. In times of stress, we rise up and help one another. That became apparent with our recent tornado disaster. Total strangers helping people, giving money, cleaning debris, cooking meals, etc. It didn't matter what color they were or their social status, folks pitched in and helped. That's Dayton Strong and that's just one of the reasons I LOVE DAYTON.

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