After seeing what Dad went through in the hospital after his surgery, the mental and physical stress he has been under, and not being able to work, I decided to plan a benefit for him. Throughout the summer I gathered items for baskets through many of the local companies in my parent’s hometown and items from places down at the shore. I contacted good family friends of ours, Lex, Patty, Jessie and Carrie Wilkinson, who just opened a sports bar very close to my parent’s house named Dub’s on 5th. I also contacted Sal Ritz, a high school friend of my parents who has his own band, and plays locally at many different events. They were all on board and wanted to help in anyway they could.
August 14 was the day I had planned. I did not go into much detail with my parents about what this night would be like – I just told them that I wanted to do this for them and to just show up. I wanted this to be an evening of happiness, and to enjoy being around friends that my parents haven’t seen in years. The main reason for this benefit was to get family, friends and neighbors, new and old, all together. A lot of our family and my parent’s friends were either unaware that Dad was sick or they did not know how his treatments were going.
After all the preparing, the day finally arrived. A few close friends of mine came to my parent’s house with me to finalize the baskets and get everything in order. I arrived at Dub’s on 5th with my brothers and a few friends to set up. The Wilkinsons helped me get situated and were very warm and welcoming to me, as always. To my surprise a few of my dad’s old coworkers and friends were there already. Dad’s old coworker introduced himself and told me how he remembered me as a little girl running around. That just shows how long it’s been since Dad has seen some of his friends, and they had no idea what my dad was going through.
People started pouring into Dubs and buying tickets for the baskets and the 50/50. Within an hour the place was packed with so many familiar faces. Even all my friends from Philadelphia and some of their families made the two-hour drive to be there. Sal Ritz started playing while everyone was ordering dinner and drinks as well as enjoying each other’s company.
My parents finally arrived and walked into Dubs. When they saw the people in the room they froze and their mouths dropped. They had no clue what to expect, and they were blown away by the turn out. There were people there that they haven’t seen in 20 years that came to show their support to my parents. The smiles on Mom’s and Dad’s faces were priceless. After all the stress they have been under in the months prior, it was so good to see them smiling, having conversation, and enjoying company of everyone there. My dad is a man of few words at times, but he was so touched by the amount of people that were there for him. He stood up with Sal Ritz and thanked everyone for coming and I remember him saying, “This night shows me how much support I really have and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”
Dad was able to stay until after the announcements of the prizes; although he said that he wanted to go before them because he was getting tired. He was happy to see who some of the prizes went to: Box seats to a Phillies game went to two of his best friends growing up, an autographed Flyers photograph to a new friend, a fruit basket to an old neighbor from when he was growing up, and many more.
This night helped raise awareness for mesothelioma and also raised money to help fund the travel expenses to and from Philadelphia for Dad’s treatments and toward some medical bills. But most importantly, it showed my parents the support that they have. So many people were offering to help in anyway that is needed.
This is the positive support any family dealing with cancer needs. When you are going through tough times, just the gathering and closeness of family and friends can lift you up. I can definitely say that this night lifted my family’s spirits and showed us the huge support that we really have.