GARDINER — As Monkitree owner Clare Marron continued to gather silent auction items to benefit a fellow downtown business owner, she reflected on the sense of community in the city.

“We’re a family, not just a business community,” she said. “When you see someone who’s struggling or in need, you try to figure out what you can do for them.”

Marron and others are organizing a 5-8 p.m. Saturday fundraiser for Gerard’s Pizza owner Jeff McCormick, who is battling cancer for a second time since 2013.

One of the donations, tickets to a Portland Sea Dogs game, will be among the items up for auction in Johnson Hall as part of the fundraiser.

“When one thing happens, you work your way through it,” Marron said. “When a second thing happens, you start to stress,” Marron said, referring to last year’s fire in downtown Gardiner that closed the pizza shop for several weeks. “When a third thing happens …”

That’s when the community responds.


In March, according to information on a gofundme page set up for McCormick, he was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer after he started experiencing blood clots in his legs and right arm. A PET scan revealed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He has undergone both chemotherapy and radiation. In an update posted a month ago, his partner, Bobbi Knowlton, said more chemotherapy was likely.

“Gerard’s has been in business in downtown Gardiner for more than 50 years,” Marron said Wednesday. “We want to support the people who have been an important part of the city.”

In addition to the silent auction, which as of midday Wednesday had more than 40 items, a barbecue has been organized in Johnson Park. Leon Emery of Emery’s Meat and Produce will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs for donations.

“I would like people to come and get a hot dog and make a significant donation,” Emery said. McCormick, he noted, buys hamburger from Emery’s and was in just last week. “But I would like people to come and be a part of the event. If you put in a dollar for a hamburger or hot dog, it’s all about Jeff.”

Johnson Hall will host the silent auction, an ice cream social and live music. Bricks salvaged from the demolition of 235 Water St. following last year’s fire will also be available for sale.

Marron said there will also be a wishing well for people to leave notes, drawings or cards for McCormick.


All proceeds will go to McCormick.

“Jeff is very reserved,” Deb Files, one of the organizers, said. “But he’s so kind and personable.”

Files said her goal, beyond the fundraising, is to see a sea of faces at the event who are showing support for both McCormick and Knowlton.

An event like this, she said, comes directly from Gardiner’s Heart and Soul project, and the community vision that emerged from the project, which supports a strong, local economy and a sense of community.

A Facebook event has been created to share information about the event. For more information, contact Files at 582-6920. For more information about the silent auction, contact Marron at 512-4679.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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