Updated Wednesday, Nov. 7.
A local restaurant is doing its part to help out the family of a 16-year-old Fort Lee boy who received a heart transplant in June by donating 15 percent of people's lunch or dinner checks Monday through Wednesday this week.
"We will never let a stupid hurricane get in the way of supporting one of our local residents," said general manager Gene Bazzarelli of Franco’s Metro earlier this week, when the event was planned for Monday through Wednesday.
Now because of the winter storm that started sweeping through the area Wednesday, Bazzarelli said he's adding a day.
"We have decided to extend [Dining for Johnny] through[Thursday] night," he said. "As always, people who cannot attend, should contact me directly to set up a time in the coming weeks to join us."
The restaurant previously promoted the event for Johnny Damato as follows:
Johnny Damato is a sweet 16-year-old boy with an extremely rare congenital heart disease. Johnny was born with Corrected Transposition of the Great Vessels. Up until recently Johnny has led the life of a normal active boy, which included playing baseball. He has always dreamed to one day, play college baseball. Over the past few years, Johnny’s condition has worsened. So much so that earlier this year, Johnny received a complete Heart transplant. Post transplant, Johnny has had to deal with many of the hardships that arise from a procedure such as this. Now, the primary goal is to keep Johnny’s new heart healthy and with that comes a continuation of medical expenses. Johnny persistently worries about the burden his illness has places on his family, simply, Johnny has done enough worrying in his young life.
Bazzarelli is said the aim was, from the beginning, about raising some money to help the family out.
“He’s having a little bit of a tough go after the transplant,” Bazzarelli said previously. “So we’re trying to raise some money for the family because insurance is kind of running out on them; they’re not really covering a lot of things, and they’re in a pickle.”
Bazzarelli said he wanted to find a way to help out one of Fort Lee’s own.
People who show up for lunch or dinner at the restaurant at 1475 Bergen Blvd. with the flyer attached to this article on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 5, 6 and 7 will have 15 percent of their check donated directly to Johnny’s family, according to Bazzarelli.
“And they can use it for whatever they want,” he said.
You can also help by donating through the website, Hope for Johnny's Heart.
Bazzarelli also said that if people can't make it during the three designated days because of the storm but would still like to take part, they can call him directly at Franco's to find a time when they can go in and make their donation.
Gene Bazzarelli can be reached at 201-461-6651.