The impact that Huntley High School test room aide Debbie Bencko has had on people’s lives was once again visible on Wednesday Feb. 14 at Nick’s Pizza and Pub. It was a night full of love, support, raffles, and pizza.
The event, “Our Hearts are with You” benefit, was hosted by special education teacher Shannon Vanek and social studies teacher Brad Aney who both work with Bencko at Huntley. They felt compelled to support the Bencko family in any way possible, and decided to plan this benefit.
Back in November, Bencko was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. The medical costs quickly took a toll on the family and the support from the community came rolling in. First, with an NHS Culver’s Night which was dedicated to Bencko.
Bencko’s daughter, Meghan Bencko, is a senior at Huntley and has seen the support first hand in Huntley since the diagnosis of her mother’s cancer.
“Last nights event meant the entire world to my family and I,” senior Meghan Bencko said. “Seeing all these people from different communities come together to support my mom and my family was incredible and greatly appreciated.”
Throughout the night, tickets for basket raffles a 50/50 raffle were sold. In addition, there was a silent auction that guests could bid on. Items included Chicago Cubs tickets, a signed Ben Zobrist jersey, Chicago Bulls tickets, and a Chicago Blackhawks basket.
These items not only added to the excitement of the night, but they raised money for the Bencko family as well.
While guests dined in at Nick’s throughout the night, they could stop by and talk to Bencko, who was on FaceTime the entire night.
“My favorite part was seeing her face light up while talking to everybody,” Meghan Bencko said. “She was so excited to see people and talk to those who she hasn’t been able to in 3 months. She was genuinely happy and it made my heart melt to see her smile as big as it’s ever been during this time.”
Even though the event was on Valentine’s Day night, there was a huge turn out of staff, families, couples, and students.
“I’m glad I was able to come up with a way to have her at the benefit but also keep her as healthy as possible,” Meghan Bencko said. “We never imagined we’d have as many people there as there actually were. The wait list got up to 95 minutes and people were staying for that wait time! That’s incredible! My family was very shocked to hear of the wait time. This just shows how many people truly care about my mom and how many hearts she’s touched through multiple communities she’s been apart of.”
Overall, the night was a huge success. Through the GoFundMe page, Nick’s 20% contribution from sales, and the raffles and auctions the community was able to raise over $12,451 for the Bencko family.
“All of us are forever grateful for the continuous support and thoughts we’ve been receiving from everybody,” Meghan Bencko said. “It was a perfect night spent with a wonderful community of family and friends who have made a huge difference in my family’s life. We thank everyone for their continuous support as well as their thoughts and prayers.”