ST. CHARLES – Jeff Bagnasco isn't a big fan of charity, he said, so he had two conditions when a longtime friend wanted to host a benefit auction in his honor.
One, he said, he would help collect the items for the event.
Two, the former Lily Lake resident said, attendees would be asked to bring a nonperishable item for Lazarus House in St. Charles.
"So at least if this flops, I know I helped others," Bagnasco said Sunday afternoon during the benefit at Beehive Tavern and Grille in downtown St. Charles.
Bagnasco, 38, was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in March, he said, noting chronic digestive issues led to the disease.
Although the Sycamore resident is too stubborn to let the illness affect him – he appeared in good spirits Sunday – his diagnosis has taken a hit to his pocketbook, he said, explaining he hasn't been able to work since late April.
His first surgery led to complications, he said, and he didn't start chemotherapy until August. He said another surgery is scheduled for December.
"Money is tight," Bagnasco said.
Enter Kyle Reed, an auctioneer who has known Bagnasco since kindergarten. Sunday, Reed auctioned off dozens of items – such as baked goods, beauty products, toys and gift certificates to local businesses – to help raise money for his friend's medical bills.
"A lot of places were really willing to give, which was nice," Bagnasco said of the number of items donated to the event.
Other friends, such as Jenny Weech, pitched in to help. Weech, who sold raffle tickets, said her husband, Erik, has been friends with Bagnasco since high school.
"Anything we can do to help," Weech said.
She described Bagnasco as giving. He is the first person to stop what he's doing to help someone in need, the person that can be counted on to help a stranded friend, she said.
Bagnasco said it's likely he'll be able to beat the cancer. Sunday, he – along with many others – wore a black shirt with this message: "Be like Jeff: Tell colon cancer where it can stick it."
Monetary donations to help pay for Bagnasco's medical expenses can be mailed to Reed's General Merchandise, 43W987 Empire Road, St. Charles, IL 60175. Please make checks payable to Grace Lutheran Church of Lily Lake with "Jeff Bagnasco" under the memo.