Monday nights are typically slow at Genio’s restaurant on Olive
Avenue. But a fund-raising dinner this week to benefit cancer patient
Mike Hele and his teenage daughter changed that.
The fund-raiser, and another one Wednesday night at Sharky’s
Mexican Grill -- both organized by the Kiwanis Club of Burbank --
raised about $500 to aid Hele, who lost his job after he was
diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on his neck. Another $800 was
raised this week through unsolicited donations, Kiwanis Club member
Stephen Veres said.
Veres said the fund-raiser at Genio’s netted $300 for the club’s
Kiwanis Cares About Children fund that will aid Hele and his
14-year-old daughter, Allison.
Even diners who did not realize a fundraiser was taking place were
anxious to help once they learned about Hele’s condition, Veres said.
“I went from table to table and told them we were having a
fund-raiser,” Veres said. “We try to use every avenue possible to
raise money because the need is great.”
The fund-raiser at Sharky’s on North Victory Place, organized by
the Kiwanis and the Burbank High School Key Club, raised an estimated
$200, Veres said.
When others in the community learned of Hele’s plight, which was
featured in the May 17 Leader, additional donations started coming
in. By Wednesday, the Kiwanis fund had received $820 in checks,
including a $500 contribution from Burbank-based Kumon Learning
Center, Veres said.
Hele is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation at Providence St.
Joseph Medical Center for an inoperable tumor on his neck. Doctors
there have given him a 40% chance of survival.
After he was diagnosed, Hele lost his sales job and health
benefits, and ran out of money for food and rent. Kiwanis Club
members are negotiating with Hele’s credit card companies and doctors
to reduce his monthly bills.
One of Hele’s debts that will be paid with the money raised this
week is his phone bill.
“He’s four months behind, and the phone company was going to cut
his service this week,” Veres said.
Hele said he is overwhelmed by the community response to his
“I’m just so happy with the outpouring of people,” Hele said.
“Burbank is so much different than other communities. It’s got a
Hele’s 14-year-old daughter, Allison, was also moved by the
community’s show of support.
“It made me more happy and more positive, and it made me more
appreciative of everything,” said Allison, an eighth-grader at John
Muir Middle School.