CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Surrounded by well-wishers, the 47-year-old woman battling breast cancer had one thought for the people who turned up for mimosas, French toast, and other brunch favorites during a fundraiser for her on Sunday morning.
“I’m blessed,” Paola Gonzalez said. “God has been looking out for me.”
More than 50 people attended the “We’re in this Together!” event at Lady and the Mug in Coral Springs to raise money for Gonzalez’s medical bills in her fight against stage 3 cancer.
Organizers brought in $1130 for the Hollywood resident who used to manage Juicery Rx in Coral Springs and other businesses. Gonzalez said she owes close to $80,000 in medical bills, and significant other costs are still ahead, including surgery, as she tries to get back to good health.
Lady and the Mug owner Aimee Tarte said she got involved in the fundraiser after seeing social media posts about Gonzalez’s illness.
“I have a small business and wanted to do something good for her and the community,” Tarte said.
Her co-organizer, Leandro Figuereo who works for Performance Title, said he wanted to help after running into Gonzalez at a food store and learning about her challenges. The two had worked together at a Jambo Juice store.
“Why not help her?” he said. “I know her and I want to make a difference.”
Tarte and Figuereo got the restaurant Tavolino Della Notte to donate the food, and they invited everyone in their business orbit to attend.
“This is called leveraging your Rolodex for the right reasons,” Figuereo said.
Gonzalez, originally from Bogota, Colombia, found out she had cancer in August and had to cut down her hours working as she underwent chemotherapy. With limited health insurance, she quickly fell in medical debt.
“It’s been really hard, but I’ve got a lot of great friends who have helped,” she said, looking at the people who showed up for the fundraiser. “Again, I’m blessed.”
Paola Gonzalez has a GoFundMe page. You can support her here.