Businesses rally behind Delvino's waitress fighting breast cancerBenefit raffle offers downtown shopping spree
Belfast — Bonnie Wheeler said her saving grace during her fight against breast cancer this year has been her ability to laugh at the world around her.
"If you can't find the humor in it, what's the point? I think I've been pretty fearless through this whole thing," said Wheeler while speaking with The Republican Journal Monday, Nov. 19.
Wheeler, a Northport resident, has been waiting tables at Delvino's Grill and Pasta House on Main Street in Belfast for nearly two years. Last June, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and next month, Wheeler will undergo a mastectomy.
She said that over the past five months the tumor has shrunk in size because of changes she's made in her diet, including taking more nutritional supplements, but now, Wheeler said, she's looking forward to that next step in her treatment process.
"I'm ready, it's just time for it to be gone now," said Wheeler.
Wheeler said she will then have reconstructive surgery, and while she's continued working since receiving her diagnosis, she will have to be out of work for a couple of months while she recovers.
That's where Delvino's co-owners Tina DelSanto and Anthony Jacovino came in. While all the medical costs will be covered through insurance, Wheeler will need a way to replace her income during the time she needs to heal.
DelSanto said that when she learned about Wheeler's situation, she and Jacovino decided to sponsor a holiday raffle featuring gift cards and products from neighboring downtown businesses. As of Monday, DelSanto said, the effort had resulted in more than $1,600 worth of goods and services, and the list of donations continues to grow daily. So far, the list of prizes includes gift cards from LaVida Restaurant, Weaver's Bakery, Darby's Restaurant, Glow Salon, Making Waves, Katwalk, The Good Table and the Colonial Theatre.
"We told the businesses besides doing a good deed, they're promoting Belfast," said DelSanto. "Someone's going to win this shopping spree in Belfast."
DelSanto said the support they've received around town has been overwhelming — Our Town Belfast agreed to post fliers downtown to promote the raffle, and the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce offered to help sell the tickets.
Wheeler said she's also been overwhelmed by all the support she's had from her coworkers and the greater community.
"It's amazing, and very humbling," she said. "The response has been amazing, people have been hunting Tina [DelSanto] down."
Wheeler said that even though she's only lived locally for a couple of years, she already feels at home in the Belfast area.
"This is what community is all about," said Wheeler. "I haven't been here long, but I already feel like I'm part of a pretty cool place."
Raffle tickets are on sale now at Delvino's, LaVida and the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce office, and may be purchased at $1 each or six for $5. The winning ticket for the prize package will be drawn during a holiday party at Delvino's Tuesday, Dec. 11.