Good MoJo: How a Simple Act of Friendship Led to a Nearly $20,000 Donation for Cancer Research

A man walks into a bar.

Those words, or infinite variations on them, provide the setup for countless jokes. While this story does provide many smiles and the remembrance of countless laughs, it evokes a whole range of emotions, from happiness to heartbreak to hope.

A Simple Act

John and Andrea Pitera, proprietors of MoJo’s on the Harbor, tell the story of Brooke Williams, a Bald Head Island resident and friend who stopped by with his wife soon after the restaurant opened nearly a decade ago. He said he wanted to see the place thrive, so he tacked a dollar bill on the wall for good luck.

The simple, casual gesture soon took on a life of its own, with an unending string of patrons adding their own dollars to the wall. Many were personalized with names, messages and artistic flourishes, and the Piteras began to see the wall of dollars as an ever-evolving art installation.

After Brooke was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the Piteras expanded the space where customers were able to add dollars (which had become known as Brooke’s Wall) because so many people wanted to add tributes to their own loved ones who had battled cancer.

Brooke passed away in September of 2012, but his legacy lived on. And on. And on.

A Tremendous Impact

By the autumn of 2019, as the Piteras prepared to sell the business, MoJo’s had nearly twenty thousand dollars tacked to nearly every vertical space in the bar and restaurant, several deep in many places. They decided to honor their friend, the man who started it all, and donate the $19,461 to Duke Hospital for pancreatic cancer research in memory of Brooke Williams.

John and Andrea describe Brooke as a special person, a man who was quick to laugh and loved to tell stories. How fitting, then, that his own story packs quite a punch, and then leaves you with a smile.

View a multiple award-winning video about Brooke’s Wall here: