Restaurateurs’ quilt raises money for cancer patient
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — A quilt, currently hanging at the Clipper Tavern, is a unique piece of Seacoast memorabilia, made up of T-shirts from local restaurants. Its purpose is to help raise money for a local man battling cancer.
Created by Portsmouth resident Patti Dame, the quilt will be raffled off Jan. 10 in what is being called Raffle4Reggie. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Clipper Tavern, as well as at The River House in Portsmouth, and The Atlantic Grill and Petey’s Summertime Seafood in Rye.
The funds will go to Portsmouth resident Reggie Tellefsen, who is in treatment for stage 4 colon cancer. Both he and his wife, Suzanne Rodriguez-Tellefsen, said they are overwhelmed by the love and generosity being shown them by the community.
“I work at the River House restaurant and one day, as I was working, a woman came in asking for a donation of a T-shirt,” said Rodriguez-Tellefsen. “She said it was for a quilt being made to help a family with cancer. It was us she was talking about.”
Reggie Tellefsen just finished his fourth round of chemotherapy and is awaiting surgery. He said he feels pretty good but is not able to work right now.
“I am doing alright,” said Tellefsen, 41. “I am going to make it another 60 years.
“I feel a little bad about all this attention,” he added. “I am not the only one going through cancer. There are millions of people going through the same thing. Still, I have to say the support of this community is amazing.”
Tellefsen is employed by Petey’s Summertime Seafood, and by the city of Portsmouth. He said the city and its employees have good to him, too, donating hours to him so he doesn’t lose too much pay.
Dame might be the Seacoast’s best kept secret quilting for causes. This is not the first time she has made a quilt to help someone with cancer, but it is the first time her children wrangled her into talking with a reporter about it.
“I do not want credit here,” said Dame, reached by phone. “I am doing this because I want to sell more tickets. I do this because it makes me feel good to do it, to help someone who needs it.”
Two of Dame’s children, twins in fact, are in public service. Tim Dame is a Portsmouth firefighter and his sister, Susan Steckevicz, is a paramedic with American Medical Response ambulance.
Tim was heavily involved in fundraising for city firefighter Sarah Fox, who died of cancer in December 2011. Fox’s battle is part of the impetus for Dame’s quilts. She made two when Hampton firefighter Kyle Jameson battled the disease before dying in May 2016, one as a fundraiser and another for his son, both made from firefighter T-shirts. She recently made another quilt as a fundraiser for Rochester firefighter Tyler Thurber, currently in treatment for lymphoma.
In March 2014, Dame lost her husband, Peter, to prostate and lung cancer. She said they both enjoyed quilting, noting he had superior skills.
“I taught him how when we were in high school,” said Dame. “His stitches were way better than mine. We were kind of hippies back then, and we would make a lot of our clothes.”
“My dad was treated for prostate and lung cancer, and they both came back,” said Steckevicz. “For about 10 years, my mom was the sole supporter of the family. Both had worked in the restaurant fields for a long time, jobs with no insurance. When my dad needed injections that cost $2,500 a piece, mom said oh well, and put them on a credit card. She is still paying off bills, five years after my dad died.”
When Dame’s best friend Kathy Liff, who works at Petey’s, told her about a man there who could use some help, the current quilt was started.
“We got shirts donated from local restaurants and my mom donates her time and skill,” said Steckevicz. “My mom is super sweet and she loves doing this. The restaurants were great, too, with many reaching out to us to offer to help. We tried counting the shirts the other day, and we think there are about 30 of them making up the quilt.”
Dame said Reggie is humble and doesn’t think he deserves so many people wanting to help him.
“I wish the quilts were for a happier reason than cancer,” said Dame. “But I am a true believer in karma and I want to help people. When my husband was sick; he was so kind to everyone around him going through treatment. I have a good life with my family and good friends, some I have had since high school. This is something I can do and it makes me happy and maybe it does some good.”
Rodriguez-Tellefsen said her husband’s doctor told him fighting cancer takes mind, body and soul.
“I think the community is going to get us through that last part,” she said. “This has been amazing.”
In addition to the quilt raffle, there is also an online donation drive.
Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com