Hands were joined today as a symbol of solidarity to rally community support to assist a struggling Cochrane family.

Lorilyn Mendoza has undergone four surgeries in the last year for brain cancer. She was sent home on Tuesday (Jan. 23) with no hope--no more chemotherapy, no more radiation, and she's paralyzed on one side.

Through it all, her husband Chris has had no choice but to limit his work in order to take care of his wife and two children, ages 3 and 7, and it has completely drained their financial resources. There's been fundraising in the Filipino community, and now it's been expanded into a townwide campaign led by Dan Kroffat.

Filipino presserDan Kroffat, here with Chris Mendoza and his two sons, ages 3 and 7, and Elizabeth Giga.

"It's really a sad time for us," said Kroffat. "I can tell you in my 50 years of doing press conferences, this is the toughest one I've ever done, because we're not dealing with a happy ending here. We're dealing with a sad story that's ongoing, and we had to decide what can we do to make a difference."

On Feb. 17, Cochranites are invited to throw their support behind the family by making a $20 donation while enjoying lunch at Giga's Pinoy Carendaria, located in the downtown 4th Ave. strip mall between noon and 2 p.m. You can also visit Bubble Tea Brewers in the same strip mall to have a bubble tea of your choice for $10 during those same two hours.

Because Rocky Mountain Rotary Club is covering all the costs, 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to the Mendoza family through the Filipino-Canadian Association of Cochrane Alberta (FCACA). Kroffat is also accepting donations through his email address for those unable to attend the event but want to contribute. You can reach him at danielsauto@hotmail.com.

Ryan Baum, of the Rocky Mountain Rotary Club, says their goal as a club has been to look after the community and in their brief history have supported many worthy local causes.

"This is an opportunity to look after a specific family that's really in need at this moment in time," he says. "Through the Filipino community, we're going to be able to help support them, and it's just such a powerful moment for us as a club."

Mayor Jeff Genung was there to support the campaign and praised the Filipino community for being such a driving, positive force in the community. He's out of town that day but says he will be there in spirit.

"This is an opportunity for us as Cochranites to give back to them for maybe the first time. They have been so instrumental in providing joy, care, and events, and they've been such a warm welcome to our community. It feels good to have the opportunity to do something in return for them."

Today, Cochrane Toyota stepped forward to cover all maintenance costs for the family's vehicle for the next year to provide further financial relief.

"I think we're fortunate that we can help out a Cochrane resident and a customer of ours," says Cochrane Toyota general manager Ryan Baum, who came wearing two hats at the press conference. "So, we have an opportunity to look after our community again. I think it's our responsibility, and I think our whole organization feels the same way."

FCACA Mike Bautista says they are proud of how this community-wide fundraising event came together.

"We are so lucky we're here in Cochrane," says Bautista. "As Filipinos, we always have projects on the go to continue help build and support the entire community."

Bubble Tea BrewersMonica and Mike Bautista and staff will be serving Bubble Tea Brewers on Feb. 17 as part of the fundraiser.

Monica Bautista, of Bubble Tea Brewers gave thanks to Dan Kroffat for organizing this initiative and says they are proud to be part of it.

Elizabeth Giga is the owner of Giga's Pinoy Carendaria and she's been helping manage the financial affairs of the Mendoza family. She's also treasurer of FCACA.

Elizabeth GigaElizabeth Giga and her staff will be serving the meal on Feb. 17.

"The family is really thankful and so are we as a community," she says. "We really appreciate what the Town of Cochrane is doing to help the family."

Giga's has been open for a year and specializes in Filipino cuisine.