Cabaret Singer & MGFA Supporter Ronni Faust Does What She Loves to Fight MG
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Cabaret Singer & MGFA Supporter Ronni Faust Does What She Loves to Fight MG

Cabaret Singer & MGFA Supporter Ronni Faust Does What She Loves to Fight MG

By Mike Antonellis

Ronni Faust has Spring Fever! –
Or is it Just Allergies?
MGFA fundraiser

Ronni Faust has been a cabaret singer for a decade and has devoted all the money from her shows to MGFA in honor of her husband Phil Cogan. It’s a win-win since she loves to sing, and all the money raised goes for better treatments, the search for a cure, and to support patients, caregivers and medical education. Learn More»

Ronni Merrill Faust is a cabaret singer and dedicated supporter of MGFA since her husband was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis six years ago. She has applied her comedic and musical talents to fundraise on behalf of MGFA. She came up with the extremely fun idea of creating a short musical video that combines hysterical lyrics, catchy show tunes, and everyday situations as part of our currently challenging world and set it all to music as a unique fundraiser. Ronni talked to the MGFA staff in the July 2020 MGFA News enewsletter. 


MGFA: How long have you been part of the MGFA community with your husband Phil?
Ronni: Phil and I have been part of the community since he was first diagnosed with myasthenia gravis six years ago. It was really quite frightening. He was having trouble walking, breathing and leading a normal life. We had never even heard of the disease, so it was definitely an education process for us. But once we figured it out and got the right doctor, we were able to manage it.


MGFA: How is he doing with the disease now?
Ronni: Phil’s been really lucky that everything is pretty much under control. He’s dealing with the disease well! I think we're really very fortunate because his physician, Doctor Bhatt, is an expert on MG, and he is terrific! And we're just keeping our fingers crossed that he continues to respond to the protocols.


MGFA: How did you come up with the idea of doing a video series?
Ronni: I am a cabaret singer and have done that since I retired from work 10 years ago. My show “Ronni Faust Has Spring Fever! Or Is It Just Allergies?” was supposed to happen this past spring. Then the pandemic hit. We rescheduled it for this fall, but that will likely not happen either. We are now hoping to do the show live in the spring of 2021 as a benefit for MGFA. A whole hour of video would have been too much, so my director Lennie Watts and I talked about selecting three songs from the show to whet peoples’ appetites for the live show when it finally happens, and we could make that a benefit. So we plotted out which three songs from my show would be diverse and fun to take peoples’ minds off of the real world.


Phil was my videographer since he was the one person I was sheltering with (and he did a great job by the way!). My music director Steven Ray Watkins came up with some great arrangements; Adam Shapiro did a terrific editing job; and Lennie and I added some funny bits. It was a tremendous team effort.


MGFA: What provided you with inspiration for these songs in your shows?
Ronni: My rule of thumb is, I have to really love every song I sing in a show. I like diversity in my selections, so I picked an uplifting pop song and put my own words into the second part of it and filmed it like a movie; the second song was more serious but evocative of the times we are going through now; and the third song was pure comedy — with a twist we added. I have so many others in my show, but I enjoy funny upbeat songs. My first show was more about myself and my life. The second show was about aging so I did it for a big birthday, and it was called “Gravity is a Bitch,” by Miranda Lambert. I wanted my third show to be more of a fun romp, hence “Ronni Faust Has Spring Fever! Or Is It Just Allergies?”


MGFA: What made you see the opportunity that this series could raise money for MGFA?
Ronni: You know, it's just all about doing something for other people. I’ve never done a show that's not for charity. Once Phil was diagnosed, I changed my charity to MGFA. MGFA needs the money far more than some of the other major diseases for obvious reasons.
I think every dollar that goes to MGFA has much more impact than it would for larger non-profits. Everyone is driven by their own experiences. We had no clue about MG when Phil was first diagnosed.  Fortunately we have friends and family who are extremely generous and have really opened their hearts and wallets. I'm thrilled that we are getting such a good response.


MGFA: How has MGFA helped you and Phil?
Ronni: Phil has been part of various organizations in the past. He wants to make things better for people. He is an incredibly giving person. MGFA gave him another great outlet to do good and this is a personal one, obviously. MGFA gives so much to the MG community. Education and awareness is important. And funding new research that could create better treatments. MGFA provides those opportunities to improve the lives of those living with MG.


MGFA: How do you have so much energy, and what would you tell the MG community to inspire them?
Ronni: Really, what is the alternative? We all need to be positive and help where we can - especially during these challenging times. Everyone knows how to do something well, and you can use that as a benefit, whatever it is. If you're a knitter, knit a  sweater and use it to get a donation for MGFA. If you sew, sew masks for fundraising. If you bake, sponsor a bake sale. So, you know, if you have a skill or talent that can work to bring money in to help the MG community, that's great!


I'm doing what I know how to do, and love doing, so it’s a win-win for us all!

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