When Paul Ziemniarski of Joliet, Ill. found out his Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia was in remission in 2011 after a yearlong fight, his thoughts first turned to others facing similar struggles.
That year, Ziemniarski and his wife Jackie founded the Ziemniarski Family Resource Foundation (ZFRF) on the principle that they should "pay it forward" for all the assistance they received from family and friends while Paul fought his cancer.
The goal was “to help families with everyday expenses that are experiencing similar situations with cancer, because we strongly believe in paying it forward,” Ziemniarski said.
Since its inception, the ZFRF has used donations to help ease the financial burden of cancer treatment for families impacted by leukemia, as well as the emotional toll. Ziemniarski assembles care packages with blankets, skin care products, puzzle books and other comforts he found helpful during his own cancer battle.
Last summer, the Ziemniarski family received devastating news: Paul's cancer had returned.
After a 30-day arsenic treatment and infusion of his own, cleaned stem cells, the family was told the procedure failed and Paul would need a transplant of stem cells from an external donor, with a two-month hospital stay in between.
Fortunately for the Ziemniarski family, Paul's "pay it forward" attitude spread to the community, which turned around and gave right back.
Bourbon Street, the largest entertainment complex on Chicago's South Side, joined forces with community members to host a benefit for the man who's spent his recovery time fundraising for others.
"For most of this whole thing, Paul has given to everybody, only to other people, and never taken anything for himself," Scott Fulwiler, one of the events organizers, told The Huffington Post. "So now, this is for him. This is something that we wanted to do to give back to him."
The benefit will be held from 6-11 p.m. Friday at Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St. in Merrionette Park. The event will include a raffle, silent auctions, food, drinks and live music -- all for $35 at the door ($30 in advance).