Fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House a gesture of thanks

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A Walla Walla couple that got a helping hand from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane three years ago is returning the favor with a fundraiser next week at their downtown eatery.

Between Monday and Saturday, 10 percent of all sales at Graze -- "a place to eat" -- will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

Ronald McDonald House Charities provides temporary lodging and support for families with children accessing medical services. The house offers a central family kitchen, private family bedrooms and room for children to play. Families that stay there get support from one another as well as Ronald McDonald House staff and volunteers.

The Spokane lodging facility became a second home for Graze owners John and Rebecca Lastoskie three years ago.

Their baby girl, Frances Kay, was born 131/2 weeks early and weighed only 11/2 pounds. She spent 100 days at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital before being sent home with her parents and brother at just shy of 5 pounds the Lastoskies explained in a release on the fundraiser.

During Frances' time in the neonatal intensive care unit, the Lastoskies say the Ronald McDonald House provided comfort and calm as they tried to maintain two small businesses and a sense of normalcy for their son.

"Three years later she is a happy and healthy little girl who likes to annoy her brother ... and amuse her parents," they wrote.

Graze, 5 S. Colville St., is known for its selection of soups, salads, paninis and hot sandwiches, including its own pastrami and house-cured sauerkraut. For more information, call 522-9991.

The couple hope to make this fundraiser an annual event.

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A local mixed martial arts coach will offer a free self-defense clinic for women in the wake of the random attack on a shopper at Kmart last month.

Brian Shields plans to hold two two-hour seminars Jan. 23, providing tips and education on safety and self-defense.

Shields said he was approached by friends of the victim in the Dec. 14 attack where a knife-wielding man grabbed a female shopper from behind in the store's Garden Center. The woman, who did not know the attacker, was able to break free, and the man was tackled by a customer before police arrived.

Since then Shields said he's been asked if local self-defense programs for women are available. He decided to offer his own.

The classes will run noon-2 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. at Calhoon's Martial Arts and 24-Hour Fitness Center, 1711 E. Isaacs Ave.

Shields has eight years of wrestling, boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu experience. He has competed as a mixed martial artist and helped train law-enforcement officers on ground fighting and weapon retention skills.

His upcoming clinics are intended for females 15 and older. About 20 people can participate in each clinic, and seating is available for additional viewers and family. Participants should wear exercise-type clothing, such as T-shirts, shorts or athletic pants and bare feet or socks. Shoes are not allowed on the mats in the gym.

For more information or to sign up, e-mail: shieldschat@yahoo.com .

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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