Democrat Photo by John Emerson
COOKIN': With trademark tongs in hand, John J. Bill Sipos, aka Mr. Willy (center), gets ready to serve up some Fibbers Restaurant food at the Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake as part of the benefit dinner for Chase Molinari. Assisting him were Nick Rajewski, left, and Bev Catalano.
Over $10,000 Raised
For Stricken Toddler
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO August 1, 2000 Hundreds of people gathered at Fibbers Restaurant to enjoy a chicken barbecue dinner at the Monster Golf Course Clubhouse at the Concord Hotel Sunday but more importantly to help a little boy most of them had never met.
Chase Molinari, now 16 months old, was diagnosed in May with a rare form of cancer: Ewings Sarcoma. The barbecue was sponsored by the Sullivan County PBA and Mr. Willys Restaurant as a means to help Chases parents, Keith and Carrie Molinari, defray the staggering expenses that have accompanied the constant trips to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for treatment.
The idea for the benefit barbecue evolved over a casual conversation between PBA President Dave Anglin and Mr. Willys owner Bill Sipos. The PBA wanted to do something to help Molinari, who is a member of the organization and a Sullivan County Sheriffs deputy. Anglins brother is the chef at Mr. Willys and had mentioned the Molinaris plight to Sipos.
All I did was say that, if there was anything I could do to help, all they had to do was ask, Sipos said. They picked the date, and it went from there.
Sipos, who operates Fibbers under contract with Louis Cappellis group at the Concord, provided the place, the help and the meal. The PBA took care of the ticket sales and publicity. It grew from there.
As word spread, the community became more and more involved. The chickens for the barbecue were donated. Mr. Willys and Fibbers employees volunteered their time to cook, serve and clean up. Raffle prizes were donated by more than a score of Sullivan County businesses and individuals. People bought tickets by the hundreds and donated even more above the $20 admission.
I sold more than $2,000 worth of tickets by myself, said Paul Pratti, a sheriffs deputy and one of Molinaris coworkers. Its been amazing. People have just been incredibly generous.
By 5:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, the event, which still had more than two hours to run, had raised more than $10,000, said Anglin. He said a final total on the event would not be available until late Monday or Tuesday but added that every nickel that came in would go to the Molinaris.
Near the end of the evening, Keith Molinari stood up and thanked everyone for their support.
When Chase fell and broke his leg, he was in the process of trying to take those first solo steps in life, he said to the crowd. Well, that was temporarily taken from us by his cancer, but when he does walk and he will walk, maybe without his God-given leg but when he walks, every person here and others had a hand in the event. No amount of thank-yous could ever express our gratitude for that.
As for Chase himself, he was too busy to notice the hoopla that was being held in his honor. Sitting in a high chair next to his mother, he concentrated his efforts on stabbing pieces of watermelon with a fork as they skidded over the tabletop.
What else would an active 16-month-old do?