The friendship between Howell resident jimmy Reilly and Woody's Roadside Tavern owner Rob Johnson dates back to their days working the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
A lot has changed since those days but on Wednesday night it was clear how strong their bond remains as the Farmingdale restaurant held a fundraiser for Reilly and his family.
Last summer Reilly, who has lived in the township for almost two decades was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Wednesday's event was made to help defray some of the costs incurred for Reilly and his family while battling the illness.
Reilly said the diagnosis actually came as a relief. “It was a pretty cool reaction,” he said. “I was not feeling well so I knew something wasn’t right.” His symptoms included bone pain and “a lot of discomfort,” so when the doctors told him what was wrong he was looking forward to making it right.
His doctor was also optimistic. “He told me right from the get go that we’ve got this,” he said. Since that time he has gone through chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant and is preparing for another procedure next week.
Through all the work Reilly said he has tried to keep his spirits high not only for himself but also his family. “Medically it’s been pretty good,” he said. Working with Hackensack University Medical Center he said they have told him “what to expect and how to do it.”
The hardest part for him, he said has been the effect on his family. “I feel confident that I’m in good hands but I have three kids and a wife and my parents are still alive and with us.” Reilly added, “That’s the worst part, having to share that news with the family.”
No matter what has happened over the past year Reilly said the support from his family and friends has been “overwhelming.” Even people he has not seen since elementary school have rallied around him during this difficult time. “If I start writing thank you notes now I’ll be done by Christmas,” he said with a laugh.
Johnson said from hallowed halls of Wall Street to seeing their children grow up through the classrooms of St. Veronica’s the two families have been through a lot together. “Our paths have intertwined for the past 20 to 25 years,” he said.
When the fundraising efforts first started the goal was to raise $1000 for Reilly and his family. Even before last night’s total was added he said close to $10,000 had been raised. “We’re always behind this man for whatever we can do for him financially or spiritually.”
Since buying Woody’s Johnson said the restaurant has held a variety of fundraisers for families in need or local organizations. “Whoever really asks, we do it,” he said. As part of the fundraising Woody’s donates 20 percent of the proceeds to the cause and also helps with auctions or other parts of the event.
To learn more about Reilly’s story and what you can do to help check out this website.