Local eatery fundraising for employee with MS

Re-Up BBQ at River Market is hosting a long-table dinner on Thursday in hopes of raising $15,000 for a former employee who recently learned he has multiple sclerosis.

Ed – who wished not to be fully identified for fear of it affecting future employment opportunities – had been working part-time at the over-the-counter restaurant for more than a year.

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The 33-year-old was also busy studying geology at Douglas College while raising a newborn daughter with his wife, who’s currently completing her master’s in social work.

Something felt off, however, this past February.

“Initially, it seemed as if he had a stroke,” recalled Re-Up BBQ owner Michael Kaisaris.

After taking a month or so off, Ed came back to work. But something still wasn’t right.

“It became clear pretty quickly that some of the symptoms weren’t fading. His equilibrium was off a little bit, and in the kitchen, that’s pretty difficult,” Kaisaris told the Record.

It was only in the last month, he added, that doctors gave Ed the multiple sclerosis diagnosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.

“He said, ‘Michael, I have to talk to you.’ We scheduled a meeting and (he) dropped the bomb,” said Kaisaris, who’s also a parent to a young daughter.

“I had like the worst week I had in a long time. It was constantly in my thoughts. It’s hard to go from a place where you’re like trying to improve your family’s lot to a place where all of a sudden, even just considering work and school is a monumental thing. My heart really went out to him.”

That’s when the owner and his wife, Lindsay, decided to help out in whatever way they could, eventually coming up with the long-table dinner fundraiser.

“To make sure that in addition to feeling stressed out and sick, they didn’t have to worry about not making the rent or something terrible like that, while they’re trying to move on with their life and move up in the world,” Kaisaris explained.

After advertising the event on social media (and selling out, too), Re-Up BBQ received a call from the B.C. Hospitality Foundation. The agency, which helps hospitality workers suffering financial hardship due to a medical condition, agreed to match up to $7,500 raised during the dinner. With a ticket costing $30 each, Re-Up BBQ has already brought in $2,400 for Ed’s family. To help reach their financial goal, there will also be a silent auction.

Every penny counts, noted Kaisaris, who described the family as living “insanely frugally,” partially relying on student loans to get by.

To donate, visit www.tinyurl.com/NewWestMS.

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