When afflicted last month with a persistent cough, back pain and then a fever, 25-year-old Cucina employee Jimmy Ortiz went to the hospital. Ortiz, who grew up in Palm Beach County, thought he might have COVID-19, but his diagnosis revealed something else: stage 3 metastatic cancer, calling for immediate surgery and the first round of more chemotherapy to come.
Now Ortiz’s friends and colleagues, including those at Cucina, are hosting a fundraiser on Thursday to help pay for his medical bills.
“Across, the board, Jimmy is one of these people who always gives his best with a smile on his face,” Cucina co-owner Kent Thurston said. “That so many people want to be there for him tells you everything about what a good person he is.”
The fund-raising event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Cucina, 257 Royal Poinciana Way. A deejay and saxophone player are set to provide live entertainment.
A $50-a-person entry fee includes two cocktails and light bites. A silent auction will feature such lots as hotel accommodations and rounds of golf at private clubs.
“I feel so blessed by all of the care and support from so many people,” Ortiz, who has been a server for three years at Cucina, said by phone Monday. “I’ve even heard from friends who go all the way back to elementary school. The emotional support everyone has given means so much.”
Thursday’s event is co-sponsored by Cucina and the Palm Beach office of real estate company Nestseekers.
“Jimmy is the epitome of kindness and selflessness,” said Nestseekers’ Stephanie Schwed, who said she and her colleagues are friendly with Ortiz because of their frequent dining at Cucina. “Everyone who knows Jimmy knows what a positive force he is.”
Registration and payment can be done online at www.eventbrite.com/e/kiss-cancer-goodbye-tickets-155124097351.
Guests at the event are invited to also attend a 9 p.m. party at Cucina that’s also in honor of Ortiz. It will feature live entertainment.
Friends and colleagues of Ortiz also have set up a GoFundMe page for Ortiz at www.gofundme.com/f/forjimmyortiz?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer).
So far, more than $64,000 has been raised there.