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Molly ShoreMonday nights are typically slow at...

Molly Shore

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.