On Saturday more than 50 people attended a at St. James Methodist Church in Pasadena to show their support for Gino Buccola, a 23-year-old alumnus who was diagnosed with cancer last October during a period when he had no health insurance, and to donate to the fund that’s going towards paying off Buccola’s excessive medical bills.
The benefit was a great success, said Jennifer Luna, an organizer of the event and a former classmate of Buccola. By hosting a musical concert and auctioning donated art, they raised more than $1,200 that will all go to help Buccola’s bills.
Buccola himself was in attendance, as was his family and girlfriend, all of whom he said have been incredibly supportive during this entire painful ordeal. He was very appreciative of all the effort his family and friends have put into helping his unfortunate situation.
“Gino is still the same happy, positive guy as he always has been,” said Luna. “He was all smiles the whole night and even made a special guest appearance on stage and sang a song while one of his closest friends, Joey Cleveland, accompanied him on guitar. The night was also a great success in that we created an awareness of Gino's situation and have recruited more people interested in helping with events in the future.”
The next event to help raise money for Buccola is scheduled for March 24 to celebrate Buccola’s 24th birthday. The party and fundraiser will take place at Santa Anita Park from 1 to 5 p.m. There will be a cost of $10.50 per person for admission, parking, and a race program. The party will be held at the Frontrunner on the 5th floor with a $10 cover.
Buccola has been struggling with this tragedy since he was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that grew from a tumor on his neck. He had surgery and underwent chemotherapy right before he got back on his parent’s health insurance. He and his family are still waiting to see if the insurance will retroactively cover some of the costs he incurred.
The reason the benefit being held on his birthday will take place at the Santa Anita Park racetrack is because Buccola’s ultimate passion is horse racing. Since mid-January he has held partial ownership of a horse that the main owner, Mark Verge, and its trainer, Doug O’Neill, decided to name after him in early January: “Fight on Gino,” a three-year-old Gelding out of Moscow Ballet horse that will be ready to race at the Santa Anita Park racetrack in a couple of weeks, according to Buccola.
Until then, Luna said, she and other supporters will be collecting more art to auction off, as well as other goods and services such as movie tickets and haircuts, to help Buccola raise as much money as possible to combat his overwhelming medical bills.