Niagara Gazette — As the co-owner of a Niagara Street restaurant, a hockey mom and Town of Lewiston employee, Ronda Koban-Sortore has met lots of people and made lots of friends.
Still, when her friends began planning a fundraiser to help with the astronomical costs of her battle against cancer, they were astounded at the response from the community.
“It’s been overwhelming,” said Lori Caso, one of Ronda’s Lewiston neighbors, who is among those planning the event. “I’ve never seen anything like this ... We set a goal of a hundred baskets. We’re at 250,” she said, adding that the committee kept increasing the number of reverse drawing tickets available until they had to set the limit at 500 and then sold out.
“It’s a testament to her,” Caso added. “She’s a wonderful person and everybody is rallying behind her.”
Koban-Sortore’s best friend, Anne Marie DiMino-Hepfer, has been at her side throughout the battle, which began with a diagnosis of breast cancer five years ago. After treatments, Koban-Sortore was cancer-free until a year-and-a-half ago when she went for routine blood work and found out the cancer had returned and was in her liver, spine and lungs.
Beyond the pain and emotional challenges of the new diagnosis, the medical bills keep coming. “The whole thing upsets me,” DiMino-Hepfer said of the expenses. “I can see why people lose their houses. Here’s a person who never took anything from the system and now she has to. She has no choice.”
She said that Koban-Sortore also never wanted a fundraiser, but her friends decided to throw one anyway. The event will be held Friday at Lewiston-Porter High School, where Koban-Sortore’s son Zachary, 17, is a senior and plays on the school’s hockey team.