JR’s Big Tip
Friends and family raise $42,000 and counting
by Carrie Madren
Each of the dozens of red and pink cutout hearts taped to the walls of Happy Harbor Bar and Restaurant in Deale is a Valentine for the local watering hole’s beloved bartender, Eileen Hvizda, known widely as JR.
Last November, the 60-year-old Hvizda was diagnosed with both lung cancer and a brain tumor. Surgeries and treatments have cost more than medical insurance covers. So the community banded together to fill the gap. First came the hearts, each representing a donation.
Then came a fundraiser in her honor. At Deale Elks Lodge on February 3, money poured in. Auctioneers Pam Parks and Judy Howard bid in just over $30,000 on hundreds of donated goods and services that ranged from power tools to quilts to charter fishing trips to a Buick. Penny Allen-Sheldrake, another cancer patient headed for chemotherapy, had her hair shaved and sold her freshly cut locks in $10 increments, raising $500 for Hvizda. A cake wheel raised $1,700. Cash bar, food and donations raised still more. Hvizda’s family and friends volunteered from noon until after midnight.
“You don’t see that kind of community outpouring anymore,” said supporter Carlton Harbaugh. All told, the afternoon raised over $42,000.
JR broke down as a packed room of 300 to 400 friends rose in applause.
“Everyone was rallying toward doing what they could to help her,” said Barbara Sturgell, Happy Harbor owner and fundraising volunteer.