If anyone can bring the Somers Point community together, it's Patti Guernaccini, her friends say.
The longtime hostess at Fitzpatrick's Deli in Somers Point, and former Somers Point Volunteer of the Year, has always worked with others to benefit the town. She has been a volunteer at the city's youth center, in the baseball field's concession stand, with the Good Old Days picnic and at many more community events.
Recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive gastric cancer, the 57-year-old mother of five and grandmother now needs help, said Leanne Gray, 27, of Somers Point, who grew up with Guernaccini's children and is organizing a fundraiser for Guernaccini at Greate Bay Country Club on July 27.
"We're putting together a celebration of hope and inspiration for an amazing woman. It will be a party," said Gray of a night of dinner, music and silent auction.
It includes an open bar with beer and wine, donated by local wine and beer company representatives. "We don't want it to be a downer at all, because if anyone can beat (cancer), it's definitely her."
The community outpouring of support has been amazing, said Gray, a financial adviser in Egg Harbor Township.
"It's overwhelming. We're getting everything donated. I've had three bands contact me (offering to donate their services) and two DJs. The flowers, food, alcohol - everything is being donated," she said.
Music is being provided by Carl Granieri Orchestra, and free babysitting by Son Catchers Learning Center on Shore Road in Somers Point.
Also ShopRite & Canada Dry are running a Root Beer Float Fundraiser for Guernaccini on July 21st at Somers Point ShopRite from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Somers Point, Upper Township, Egg Harbor Township and Vineland locations, Gray said.
Gray and a committee of supporters first set the fundraising goal at $40,000, Gray said. But the group has already raised $26,000, before the event. So Gray now hopes to raise $50,000. The funds will be used to help Guernaccini pay for alternative treatment she is getting in Mexico, after her doctors told her traditional treatments would not be effective.
Son Joe Guernaccini, of Santa Cruz, Calif., said his mom's cancer is very fast-spreading.
"She was totally fine in March. My brother (Matt, also of Santa Cruz) had a child in mid-March, and she came out for two weeks and helped," Joe said. "She had a little heartburn, but never mentioned it to us. Then, come April, it got worse and worse."
At first doctors told her it was an ulcer that needed to heal, Joe said, but after she lost 30 pounds in about a month, they did more tests and found the cancer.
He said she is being treated in Mexico with an immunotherapy drug to boost the immune system, and after two treatments, she is feeling much better. She will return to Mexico soon after the benefit for her third treatment, he said.
In addition to her sons, Patti also has three daughters, Angela Bonavita, of Northfield; Lisa Fermonte, of Ventnor; and Pamela Guernaccini, of Somers Point. They are all caring for her and helping with the benefit, Gray said.
Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:
Patti G Benefit
Held 6 to 10 p.m. July 27 at Greate Bay Country Club, 901 Mays Landing Road, Somers Point. Tickets are $50, available at Fitzpatrick's Deli & Steakhouse, New Road, Somers Point or at the door. Donations may be sent to PO Box 210, Somers Point, NJ 08244. To reserve free babysitting, or for more information, call Gray at 609-788-4646 or email PattiGbenefit@yahoo.com