Craig resident Marge McKenzie spent weeks planning, followed by 14 hours of cooking, a weekend benefit dinner.
There was a twist, however. She was the beneficiary of the fundraiser.
From 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at St. Michael’s Kitchen, McKenzie and a small group of volunteers served homemade Mexican meals for $8 per person.
McKenzie, a 30-year resident of Craig, said proceeds from the fundraiser will allow her to travel to New York and assist her ailing daughter and other family members.
“I needed more money to sustain myself while I’m out there,” said McKenzie, who is retired but volunteers at The Memorial Hospital in Craig. “I don’t know how long I’ll be out there, and I’m on a limited income.”
McKenzie said her daughter, DeAnna Jacobs, 47, suffers from autonomic neuropathy, a deadly and painful complication of diabetes.
“I don’t know how long she has,” she said.
McKenzie said the disease shuts down major organs.
“The reason it affects all the organs is because the nerves and muscles stop regenerating, stop functioning,” she said.
The condition also causes dementia.
“Her brain has shrunk. She’s losing memory. She can’t remember sometimes where she’s at, or what she was doing,” McKenzie said. “Her doctor said she could go into full dementia before she dies.”
Jacobs lives in Petersburg, N.Y., with her husband, Steve, son Robert and mother-in-law Von.
McKenzie said Steve suffers from muscular dystrophy, and Von has Alzheimer’s.
“(Steve)’s got to take care of himself, he’s got to take care of his mom, and he’s got his hands full with my daughter,” McKenzie said.
“But, he’s very strong in his faith.”
McKenzie said she wants to be with her family to help for as long as she’s needed.
“They’re having a difficult time,” she said. “I couldn’t just go out there and run out of money in a week or two. Then what?”
McKenzie said a friend suggested the possibility of a benefit, but she wasn’t sure what to do.
The answer, McKenzie said, arrived while she slept.
“I’d been having these dreams about tables and food, tables and food,” McKenzie said. “So, I thought, ‘That’s what I’ll do.’”
McKenzie, a former restaurateur, bought ingredients and prepared most of the dishes herself. She also brought her own pots and pans.
Margaret Perez was one of several TMH volunteers — also known as the Pink Ladies — who assisted McKenzie during the benefit dinner.
“She’s just a go-getter,” Perez said of McKenzie. “She made over 24 dozen tamales. Plus, green chile, beans and meat. She bought everything.”
McKenzie said the event raised more than $2,000.
“I was so amazed by the support I got,” she said.
McKenzie plans to depart for New York this week.
Additional donations to Marge McKenzie can be made in care of Rev. Jim Fox at St. Michael Catholic Church, 678 School Street.
Ben McCanna can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.