Everything is coming together beautifully for the Don and Dora Winslow Benefit Gala with doors opening at 4 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer.
The event, organized by their friend Corenna O’Brien of Orrington, benefits the highly regarded Hermon couple who are going through one of those major hurdles in life that often hits one but not the other, especially at the same time: being treated for cancer.
Don, who was diagnosed eight years ago with the neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease, retired in 2007 as chief of the Bangor Police Department.
He now is receiving chemotherapy treatments for neck and head cancer.
A year after Don received his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Dora was diagnosed with breast cancer. After treatment she was declared cancer-free, but in November was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
After undergoing major surgery, Dora also is receiving chemotherapy and, as we learned in a recent column written by their friend and my co-worker Renee Ordway, Don and Dora spent their 32nd Valentine’s Day receiving chemotherapy together at Lafayette Cancer Center in Brewer.
According to Renee, Don and Dora are facing their mutual experience bravely, and the prognosis for both is good.
In the meantime, friends, family and community members are doing what they can to support and encourage the couple through this trying time.
Corenna is excited about the gala, which features a spaghetti dinner, live and silent auctions, and dancing to the music of the band once known as Arizona but which “Don always called the Bangor Police Band,” Corenna told me of the musicians who were, at that time, members of the BPD.
Leading the band is Bob Hutchins, who will be joined by Paul Haslam, Robert Gould, Levi Sewall, Bill Gardiner, Brian Pyzynski, Aaron Boyington and sound and light engineer Peter Allen.
Admission for the event, which includes a cash bar, is $15 per person, and tickets are available by calling Corenna at 944-4089 or contacting her on her Facebook page.
Don and Dora will attend, Corenna told me of the couple she has known for some time, having first met Dora in the late ’90s when they both worked at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
On her Facebook page, Corenna wrote that the Winslows “are those people with a contagious spirit that are a true inspiration to everyone around them, especially now.”
Through organizing this event, Corenna knows how much this couple means to so many.
“I believe the outpouring of generosity and sincere concern by the community is a testament of Don and Dora’s years of endless compassion, goodwill and service,” Corenna wrote on Facebook.
Proof of that statement is in the support the benefit is receiving.
Tuffy Bear furniture store owners Shawn and Sherry Graham donated a $2,500 grandfather clock that is part of an ongoing raffle which will be drawn that night. Tickets are $3 each or six for $15 and can be obtained by contacting Corenna.
Buffie’s Weddings owner Buffie McCue is supplying all decorations and installing them, and Hampden Floral is donating the centerpieces. Event tickets were donated by Bacon Printing, raffle tickets by Jiffy Print and posters by Bangor Lettershop.
United Technology Center, Frank’s Bake Shop, LaBree’s and Governor’s Restaurant are donating desserts; Granville Rental is supplying equipment, Maine Signs is donating inside signs and Corenna extends a special thank-you to Jeff’s Catering for that support.
Mike Dow of KISS 94.5 radio will be master of ceremonies, and “tons of items have been donated” for the auctions, Corenna said.
Among the donors are Day’s Jewelers, Quality Jewelers, Yankee Knife Maker, Webber Energy, Acadia Air Tours, Old Town Canoe, Truck Works & Auto, Hollywood Slots, Hartstone Inn in Camden, Greenville Inn, C.L. O’Brien Jr. and Associates Private Investigations, Central Maine Harley-Davidson, Stonington’s Furniture, Union Street Athletics, Maine Distributors, Johnson’s Florist, Nickerson & O’Day, and one week at a Milo camp from Emery and Cindy Pelletier.
Corenna extends her thanks to everyone who contributed to this benefit for this couple who “is still an inspiration to us,” she said, and is happy to report that Dora will be wearing the necklace from Day’s Jewelers that is in the auction.
If you have your calendar handy, mark March 26 for the next Winslow fundraiser: a Longaberger Basket Bingo at Bangor Elks Club. Tickets for that event will be on sale at the gala.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; email@example.com; 990-8288.