The proceeds from the benefit will help offset the costs of chemotherapy.

PITTSTON, Pa. — Ray Laudato of Old Forge served the country in Vietnam and retired from a career he had for 60 years right after Christmas.

Only three days after his last day of work, he got the news that he has bladder cancer.

“It was a surprise, it wasn’t exactly what I expected to do in retirement,” Laudato said. “At least I have the time to take care of it now.”

Laudato’s cancer was operable, but he’s facing a long and pricy chemotherapy treatment. 

So, in just a matter of a week, friends and family put together a benefit for him at Arcaro’s The Next Generation.

“Ray’s been a friend of ours, of the family’s for almost 20 years,” said Francine Arcaro of Arcaro’s The Next Generation. “We’ve watched him help everyone he can, and now is when he needed our help.”

Family members said dozens of friends donated raffle baskets and offered to help serve pasta dinners.

Strangers packed the place, offering Laudato well wishes. 

“It shows that nobody fights alone, that as a community we all stand together, we all do this together,” Megan Laudato, Ray’s daughter-in-law, said. “They saw that there’s a veteran that’s in need and needs help paying medical bills and needs help to fight for his cancer treatments.”

Laudato still has five rounds of chemo to go; he says this show of support gave him the strength to get through it.

“This outpouring of love and support for me, it’s humbling, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I never expected anything like this and just so overwhelmed with everything that’s going on here today.”

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