Fundraiser for business owner

Event scheduled for Aug. 18 in Wasilla


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George Gardner, owner of Hilltop Recycling in Chugiak, poses for a picture with his granddaughter, Taylor. A fundraiser will be held for Mr. Gardner — who was diagnosed with colon cancer in January — on Saturday, Aug. 18 in Wasilla.

NITA DUKES/WILD EYE OF ALASKA PHOTOGRAPHY

A fundraiser will be held for George Gardner, owner of Hilltop Recycling in Chugiak, on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. at the Mug-Shot Saloon in Wasilla.

Gardner, who co-owns the family business with his siblings, was diagnosed with colon cancer in January, just four months after his mother died of lung cancer, said his daughter Amber Gardner.

He has emergency insurance that covers 80 percent of his chemotherapy, but the plan costs one-third of his monthly income, she said.

George also cares for his wife, who suffers from lupus, which prevents her from working.

So when the family received word that George was selected for the third “Big M Memorial,” the Gardners were ecstatic, Amber said.

“It kind of took a big burden off my dad,” she said. “He’s already looking like he’s not so stressed.”

The “Big M” was started two years ago after Mug Shot owner Ted Anderson’s wife, Marilyn, was diagnosed with cancer. The event now lives on in her name, helping one person a year raise money to pay for cancer treatment.

This year, the event will feature a potluck, carnival, drinks, face painting, a bake sale, live music and an auction, Amber said.

“It’s gonna be a family event,” she said.

Some of the top items up for bid are a six-month Alaska Club membership and either a snowmachine or 4-wheeler courtesy of Eagle River Polaris, she said.

“We’ve got a lot of big items,” Amber said.

Amber is still seeking vendors for the event. For more information or to sign up, call her at 907-414-0027.

Amber said she’ll take as many vendors as possible, as space is not an issue.

“As long as it’s family friendly, the more the merrier because we have a huge lot,” she said.

George — whose father opened Hilltop Recycling in 1959 — started showing symptoms in October 2011, Amber said. After he lost 40 pounds, George visited the doctor and was diagnosed with colon cancer, she said.

He started chemotherapy two weeks later, Amber said, and “has done chemo every other week since then.”

George is scheduled to have surgery on Friday, Aug. 3. During recovery, he needs to take at least one month off from work, Amber said.

Throughout his life, George has always helped others, Amber said.

“My dad has always been the rock in our family,” she said via email. “Giving out advice and helping out in any way he can — whether it was letting one of his four children, friends or family borrow his vehicles, crash on his couch or loaning money to people who are just having a rough time in life.”

His illness has not been easy on the family, Amber said, but George continues to stay positive.

“It has been so hard watching him get sick and go through his chemo and still struggle to go to work as much as possible,” she wrote. “But he never complains and is always happy to see his kids and his granddaughter, Taylor.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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