Jan 7, 2014
02:12 PM
Health & Wellness

For Oxford Girl Who Wants to Be a Chef but Can't Eat, a Fundraising Feast & Auction

For Oxford Girl Who Wants to Be a Chef but Can't Eat, a Fundraising Feast & Auction

Chelsea Wheeler.

Editor's note: The dinner described here is now sold-out. Stay tuned for further updates about Chelsea.

The menu at a dinner and silent auction event Feb. 22 at the Villa Bianca in Seymour reads like exactly what it is—a tempting and bountiful feast that runs from hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and salad to stuffed baked chicken, penne alla vodka, carved pork loin, roasted potatoes, vegetables, chocolate mousse and other desserts.

The girl at the heart of the event, Chelsea Wheeler of Oxford, won’t be able to enjoy any of it.

In one of those disturbing mystery-of-the-maker ironies, Chelsea, who loves to cook and wants to become a chef with her own restaurant, is dealing with a very serious condition that has left her unable to eat—anything.

(See our original story on Chelsea’s plight, and also see the story on CNN interviewing Chelsea.)

Chelsea, who has experienced health-related issues since birth, and has logged more than 30 surgeries in her 10 years, has been diagnosed with pseudo obstruction, which has caused irreversible intestinal failure. As a result, she needs a small bowel transplant to save her life and make possible that future where she delights gourmets with her original recipes at an in-demand place called, simply, Chelly’s.

But there’s a long way to go—and a lot more expense—for Chelsea and the Wheeler family before that bright future can be fulfilled. Since October of 2012, Chelsea has been TPN dependent, which means that she relies on IV feedings to live—a situation that cannot be sustained long-term.

Chelsea is on the National Organ Transplant waiting list, and the transplant will take place at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. To get to that point, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), a national charity, is working with Connecticut volunteers raising funds for Chelsea Wheeler. COTA is one of the good guys in the fundraising world, as 100 percent of all funds raised are used for patients’ transplant-related expenses.

And that leads to the COTA for ChelseaW Benefit Silent Auction Dinner Feb. 22 (with an snow date of March 8) at the Villa Bianca. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children younger than 12—and in addition to the delicious menu, the event features both a raffle and silent auction that are overflowing with great items.

Volunteer Marcy Kaether, who is coordinating the benefit, described some of the items in an email, with the roster still something of a work-in-progress.

For example, one lucky guest will go home with two tickets the “Late Show With David Letterman,” with the possibility that a limo ride will become part of that package.

Likewise, items have been promised from the New York Giants of the NFL, the World Champion Boston Red Sox and Connecticut’s own Ski Sundown, though the specific donations haven’t yet been quantified.

Silent auction items that are set include:

  • A one-bedroom condo in St. Thomas for a week
  • A Chloe handbag worth $1,500
  • A Laser facsimile of a 2013 New York Jets signed football
  • Stanley Black & Decker tools worth $600
  • An autographed and personalized Zack Wheeler picture
  • A framed piece of Mariano Rivera memorabilia from Rock Solid Sports 

“We have a lot of raffle items,”  Kaether says, including gift baskets, a one-night stay at the Crowne Plaza in Southbury, a $70 gift certificate to the Sports Center of CT in Shelton, Bridgeport Bluefish tickets, four New Britain Rock Cats tickets, a $25 gift certificate to Frank Pepe's Pizza, tickets to a “Sing-A-Long Grease” event Feb. 27 at the Palace Theater in Waterbury and cookbooks from the Culinary Institute of America.

“The Villa Bianca has been very generous as well,” Kaether says.

The benefit goes from 5 to 10 p.m., with all proceeds going to COTA for Chelsea’s expenses.

Anyone who wants to reserve a table, or has questions about the benefit, may email Kaether at marcy.chelseaw@gmail.com or call (203) 828-8379, and check in for details as they evolve on the COTA for Chelsea W Facebook page, where you can currently make plans to attend A Night of Comedy With Dave Reilly to Benefit Chelsea Wheeler at the Colonial Tavern in Oxford Jan. 18.

Meanwhile, a flier for the Villa Bianca benefit that’s also a ticket order form advises that filled-out forms and payments be sent to Kaether at her “Reality Road” address by Feb. 14—which, of course, is Valentine’s Day.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Chelsea’s reality on each Valentine’s Day in the future is to be able to cook dinner for people special to her—and then sit down and enjoy it with them?

The place to help make that happen is the COTA for Chelsea W website, which features the moving “glimpse of Chelsea’s journey” video below. (Also read the original Connecticut Magazine story.)

 

For Oxford Girl Who Wants to Be a Chef but Can't Eat, a Fundraising Feast & Auction

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