Dishing out curry to fund scholarships at UCLA in memory of paramedic son
Emiko Sekine will serve up her famous oishi curry, a specialty from her former E&E Café in the San Fernando Valley, during an Oct. 14 fundraiser in memory of her son. The event will raise money to provide scholarships that allow individuals to pursue a career as a paramedic, a job that her son loved.
Emiko's son Mitch served five years in the emergency medical services, first as an emergency medical technician and then a paramedic. He was killed in 2007 in a traffic collision on the way to his shift. He was 28.
Led by his mom, his family and friends established the Mitch Sekine Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2010. In each new class, a selected student at Mitch's alma mater, the UCLA Paramedic Education Program, receives $2,000 in funding to help with tuition. Four scholarship recipients have now graduated and work as paramedics.
A dynamo, Emiko raised her two sons as a single mother, and she and her sister Etsuko opened the E&E Café in Northridge, using their first initials for the name. Their dishes quickly became local favorites, especially the curries. The restaurant closed in 2007 after 14 years in business — the same year Mitch died.
Emiko says that as a full-time working mother, cooking was a special part of her relationship and bonding with her sons. When she cooks today, she remembers the smiles and compliments Mitch, her younger son, used to give her for those home-cooked meals. A cookbook of Mitch's favorite recipes will also be available for sale at the fundraiser.
"Compiling the cookbook and working with the scholarship fund has helped me create a new beginning, and I've started to heal," Emiko said. "I take comfort that Mitch will live on in the hearts and minds of the patients and families that the scholarship touches."
Brenda Robinson, 27, is the most recent scholarship recipient. She just graduated as a paramedic and will attend the fundraising event, along with other recipients.
"I am so grateful to the Sekine family for helping me achieve my dreams," she said. "The scholarship has helped me to truly make a difference and help others in the community."
Robinson tells of a recent paramedic run when, as an intern, she held the hand of a man who suffered a gunshot wound as an innocent bystander. As they rushed to the hospital in the ambulance, she told him to hold on and that he would be OK. A few weeks later, the man and his family came to the fire station to thank her. Robinson's kind words, he said, helped save his life.
"We are grateful for the family's support of our paramedic students — what a tremendous way to honor Mitch's memory," said Dr. Baxter Larmon, professor of emergency medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care, which administers the Paramedic Education Program.
The goal is to raise funds for six more scholarships, and Emiko's delicious cooking will be the lynchpin. The fundraiser will take place Sunday at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center in Pacoima, from noon to 3 p.m.
All proceeds from the event and sales of the cookbook will go to the scholarship fund. The Japanese curry meal, with drink, is $15, and there are other meal options for kids. For more information about the event and scholarship fund, please visit http://mitchliveson.com and http://ucla.in/SOzjXF.
The UCLA Center for Prehospital Care is an international leader in prehospital education and research and an innovator and advocate for the development of quality emergency medical services (EMS) systems. The center is part of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.