Family and friends of a longtime Cape Elizabeth resident and business owner, Dave Roberts, who was diagnosed with a blood disorder in April, continue to seek financial support for his treatment through an online fundraising campaign and other events.

A 30-day GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $26,000 from nearly 200 people since it began on April 23, and donations keep coming in. Roberts, who has a wife, LeAnne, and daughter, Sydney, was diagnosed with sudden onset of myelodysplastic syndrome with severely reduced kidney function on April 1.

“It’s just really overwhelming; it all happened really quick,” LeAnne Roberts said of her husband’s diagnosis. The support on the GoFundMe site, and everyone’s “kind words,” she added, “is just amazing.”

A silent auction, organized by a group of Roberts’ childhood friends, is also set for Saturday, May 30, at the Purpoodock Club on Spurwink Avenue in Cape Elizabeth from 7-9:30 p.m. to help cover living expenses for Roberts and his family. The event is open to the public.

A master plumber for 30 years, Roberts, 58, grew up in Portland and Cape Elizabeth and has been running a plumbing company, D.A. Roberts, Inc. on Trundy Road in Cape Elizabeth since 2002.

A family friend, Mary Fibich, started the online campaign with a goal of raising $25,000. As of Tuesday afternoon the campaign had raised $26,705.

The family has health insurance but the money raised from the campaign, and other fundraising events, will go toward any costs not covered by the family’s insurance, including large co-payments, said Fibich, who has been friends with LeAnne Roberts for six years.

“When it became apparent that Dave could be in intensive treatment for some time, I just felt something needed to be done to allow him and LeAnne to focus solely on his treatment,” she said. “My hope was and is to give them a little peace of mind at such a difficult time.”

Though she started the GoFundMe site, “it’s the generosity of so many friends, family and even strangers that has made the fund grow beyond what I could have imagined,” said Fibich.

According to LeAnne Roberts, her husband read some of the comments by donors on the GoFundMe page two weeks ago when he was going through intensive chemotherapy, and it was both “encouraging” and “comforting” for him. She said supporters of the Dave Roberts and Family Fund are not only from Cape Elizabeth and other nearby communities, but from all over Maine and the United States.

“We are so thankful we live in such a great community and we have such good support of friends, family and customers,” said LeAnne Roberts, who has taken over the operation of her husband’s plumbing business during his treatment.

According to an update on the GoFundMe page in late April, “Dave has been so strong throughout this month of hospitalizations and extreme physical pain and illness. He worries for his family since he has been unable to work and will not be able to return to work for some time.”

Dave Roberts continues to rebuild his immune system following his treatment at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Depending on the outcome of the chemotherapy, LeAnne Roberts said her husband will be evaluated for a bone marrow transplant at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in June.

According to the international MDS Foundation, myelodysplastic syndrome, or myelodysplasia, is often referred to as “bone marrow failure disorder,” in which a person’s bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells.

Peter Kostopoulos, who grew up in Broad Cove with Roberts and a close-knit group of friends and fellow Cape Elizabeth High School graduates, Bob Murray, Mike Chapman and Raymond Taylor, are organizing the silent auction, which will include appetizers, a cash bar and a disc jockey. Dave Roberts has been a member of the Purpoodock Club, a private golf club, since 2013.

Auction items include gift certificates to local restaurants, a full-day boat rental, rounds of golf, gift baskets filled with items from Lucas Foods and Kettle Cove Foods, artwork by local artists, and more.

According to Kostopoulos, now a Windham resident, Dave Roberts would help anyone in a time of need.

“He’s a great guy and tremendous person,” Kostopoulos said. “He’s one of those guys who would take the shirt off his back to help anybody. He’s an outstanding gentleman.”

Kostopoulous said his goal is to raise enough money to pay the Roberts’ mortgage and household bills for a year. Combined with the $25,000 online fundraising campaign, organizers aim to raise a total of $40,000 for the family, he said.

“It’s hard to see David in this position. It’s very hard to see a close friend … like this,” said Kostopoulos, who hopes to raise about $10,000 on May 30.

Kostopoulos commends Mary Fibich for starting the online campaign and for updating supporters about Roberts’ condition. On Sunday, Fibich wrote on the GoFundMe page that Roberts “is still working hard to stabilize his body after the chemo and is honorably coping with the painful side effects.”

Fibich said while the GoFundMe campaign has reached its goal, “additional contributions are valuable to the family. We started the GoFundMe (campaign) not thinking it would ever get to where it is.”

Dave Roberts, a longtime Cape Elizabeth resident and owner of plumbing business D.A. Roberts, Inc, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, also known as “bone marrow failure disorder,” on April 1. Courtesy photo


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