PaulPalooza 2018 (copy)

Hundreds of people attended the inaugural PaulPalooza on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. The event was held by Jim and Kathie Natzke in memory of their son Paul on the first anniversary of his death.

Even though last year’s inaugural Paulpalooza was meant to celebrate the life of a Fitchburg teenager who died in 2017, there was still a little bit of sadness.

Kathie Natzke, Paul’s mother, said it was sad because it was “definitely a party he would have loved.” Paul was born with spina bifida and died in an unexpected accident.

“The fact that he was missing was painful,” she wrote to the Press in an email. “But happy and sad can coexist, and it was so wonderful to see so many people come out to help us raise money and honor his memory.”

Kathie and her husband, Jim, will host the event again on Sunday, Aug. 25, at The Hop Garden, 6889 Canal St., Belleville.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with all proceeds going to Paul’s Party, a nonprofit the Natzkes started to celebrate Paul’s life. The nonprofit provides money for sports equipment and camps for children with disabilities, she said.

“All of these things are much more expensive for kids with disabilities, making them cost prohibitive for many families,” Kathie said. “We don’t want kids to miss out just because they have a disability.”

The event will include live music and food – including Paul’s favorite, macaroni and cheese – as well as a raffle and yard games.

In addition, event host Hop Garden will be serving a special brew of “Pop-a-Wheelie Red Lager,” in memory of the red-headed wheelchair user, Kathie said.

She said her goal in hosting the event is to raise money for charity, while giving people a “fair representation” of her son’s life.

“I want people who knew Paul to feel him, and those who didn’t, to leave thinking, ‘Wow, he must have been a super cool kid,’ because he was,” she wrote.

For more information, visit paulsparty.org.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.