MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On Sunday, March 9th, it was all about Milwaukee Police Lieutenant Chris Blaszak. For every burger sold, $1 was donated to Blaszak to help him cover mounting medical bills. Blaszak has been diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening State 4 cancer.
Dave and Melanie Sobelman say Blaszak was a regular at their former Eastside Grill, as well as their other locations. They say they know Blaszak via a network of friends, family and kids’ schools.
On Sunday, Sobelmans at Marquette (1601 W. Wells Street) donated $1 for each burger sold to the “Go Fund Me” campaign set up by Blaszak’s cousin.
"We've just been completely overwhelmed by all the support that we've received for -- just for Chris in general. Whether it be (Sunday's) event or the event we're having in May," Dana Stelske, a family friend told FOX6 News at Sobelmans.
44-year-old Blaszak is a loving husband and father, and he’s served 22 years with MPD — as a homicide detective and lieutenant.
Blaszak has been on sick leave for weeks now — recovering from surgeries to his face, after what Blaszak thought was an infected wisdom tooth turned out to be Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mandible.
He was unable to attend Sunday's fundraiser -- but FOX6 News spoke with him at his home a few weeks ago.
The cancer and surgeries have taken away Blaszak’s ability to shave, but haven’t taken away Blaszak’s sense of humor.
“Some people were joking that I looked like that character Tom Hanks played in Castaway. People getting me a Wilson ball so I’d have someone to talk to,” Blaszak said.
Blaszak says his cancer is rare for someone his age, and is normally diagnosed in people who are heavy smokers or heavy drinkers.
“I’m neither of those,” Blaszak said.
“It’s a shock to everybody,” Blaszak’s cousin, Delanie Ford said.
Ford set up the GoFundMe fundraising webpage to help the family deal with the costs insurance won’t cover and the income cancer has taken away from Blaszak’s family.
“This fundraiser for me was a no brainier because they would do it for any of us,” Ford said.
“It’s humbling. It’s overwhelming,” Blaszak said.
Overwhelming could describe the surgeries to remove the tumor and infected tissues, the bone taken from Blaszak’s leg to graft to his face, and the post-surgical emergency that nearly took his life.
“I have plenty to complain about, but there’s always someone who has it worse,” Blaszak said.
Flanked by family, the man who wasn’t taken down by the Taliban when he was serving in Afghanistan in the military, and the former homicide detective who wasn’t intimidated by murderers plans to survive yet another danger.
“I’m going to keep plowing forward because that is the right thing to do,” Blaszak said.
Blaszak is in the process of considering chemo and radiation therapy.
A fundraiser is planned for May 3rd at Kelly’s Bleachers in Milwaukee.
CLICK HERE to make a donation via Chris Blaszak's "GoFundMe" page.