Auburn resident and business owner John Mauro has quite a reputation when it comes to gingerbread. Over the last eight years, Mauro has built a 12 foot tall gingerbread man, a 1,700 bound Christmas tree, and an 8-plus foot gingerbread house with smoke coming from the chimney. Last year he worked with then- 12 year old Leiya Sturtze of Worcester to build a 3 foot diameter ‘Whoville’ snow globe.
Most of Mauro’s creations have been on display at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, as Mauro worked for a company that contracted to provide Hanover Insurance’s food services. About 4 months ago, however, Mauro had to leave his job due to the progression of a condition known as Ataxia. He continues to operate his catering company, Simply Delicious, and to create gingerbread monstrosities.
Ataxia is a group of about 30 different but related degenerative neurological disorders. Some symptoms of a person who may be suffering from this disease often include impairment of coordination, hearing, vision and speech. Unfortunately at this time, there is no effective treatment or cure for Ataxia.
Since his diagnosis in 2006, Mauro has devoted tremendous time to raising money and awareness for Ataxia. He organizes Ride for John – Walk and Roll for Ataxia each year at Lemansky Park, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Ataxia research.
This December, inspired by the blockbuster hit, Frozen, Mauro will build a gingerbread ice castle at the Auburn Mall, just outside the Olympia Sports. Mauro plans to begin building about December 15th, and hopes to finish on December 22.
While Mauro cannot solicit donations at the mall, his goal is to raise awareness of this disease and inspire people to visit his website, or the National Ataxia Foundation website and make a donation. Donations can be made on the National Ataxia Foundation website www.ataxia.org or at www.rideforjohn.com. Ninety-eight percent of donations go toward the foundation’s research, said John.
Mauro encourages everyone to stop by and watch the progress, and of course to see the completed castle.