Trish Gray / Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Lisa Westerlund, organizer of the benefit dinner for Harvey Gonzalez, takes the time to take a breath for a picture. The benefit was a sell-out with 500 tickets sold.
TONOPAH — The Tonopah Convention Center was filled to capacity on Saturday night as close to 500 people had a steak dinner in support of Harvey Gonzalez and his family. Gonzalez was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at the end of 2013. He has since had an operation to remove the cancer and plans on starting chemotherapy soon.
The dinner for Gonzalez has certainly united Nye County bringing people from all areas of the county together. The support from all over the county and especially Southern Nye County was noticed by Nye County Assistant Manager Joni Eastley, who attended the dinner.
“What happened here this evening just confirms what I’ve believed for many years: that there are more things that unite us than divide us. One of those things is the love we have for our friends and family, and geography will never change that. There was no geography tonight,” she said.
The man has been described as a fighter who never gives up. He has been a pillar in the Tonopah community for over 10 years working as a deputy in the jails for ten years and then for the past three years in juvenile probation for Nye County. He has been president of the Rotary Club, deeply involved with the Elks and also has coached sports at the high school for 10 years.
When Gonzalez made an appearance he came into the building and immediately the crowd stood up and gave him a standing ovation. He had to be helped in by his family and one could tell he was still recovering from the surgery because he had lost a lot of weight.
The show of support will help Gonzalez make ends meet as he has to travel to Reno for the chemo and this is expected to take a toll on the family finances.
Westerlund was excited about the amount of people that showed up for the dinner.
”The Elk’s Lodge cooked a fantastic meal as always. Our community is truly lucky to have such a great group of Elks members. I believe that we had close to 400 in attendance for the event. We knew a lot of people purchased tickets just to donate to Harvey and the cause,” she said.
Westerlund said for the dinner the Elks bought 500 steaks. Any extra steaks were sold at auction at the end of the night. She said the family was very appreciative of all the support they have been getting.
“Sunday, Joe and I had breakfast at the Mizpah with fellow Rotarians that traveled to Tonopah to support the event. His San Diego family had come in and sat next to us to have their breakfast. I leaned over a few times to have a chat with them. They are just amazed at the impact that Harvey has had on our community. They knew he was involved in a lot of things while he has been in Nevada, but never realized that it was this much. I told them in Rotary and the Elks that he has been a huge part of revitalizing things and bringing fresh energy to the groups. One of his aunts who spoke for the family just couldn’t put into words how much she appreciated our community supporting him the way we have,” she said.
The support will not end with this event. On March 8 Pahrump will have a walk in support of this dynamic family and man who has given so much to our county. The walk will be at the Lake View Executive Golf Course and will go once around the course at 8 a.m. Registration is at 7 a. m. at the golf course and tickets will be sold at the Pahrump Valley Times office during normal business hours for $20 per person. Kids 8 and under are free to walk. Another walk will be on March 22 at 9 a.m. and this walk will go from Scolari’s to the Kozy Korner. T-shirts will be on sale at both walks and there will be raffle tickets for prizes.
The family would like to thank the following people: Ron Kipp and the Tonopah Elks for organizing the dinner, the Rotarians, Cindy Kaminski for being the emcee, The Nevada Conservation Camp for cleaning of the convention center, The Lady Muckers for helping out, The Nye County employees who made baskets for the raffle, and all the businesses that have donated prizes.