'Our hearts feel full': Fundraiser launched for CT restaurant owner fighting cancer

Photo of Emily Morgan

NORWALK — Friends of Bob LeRose, owner of Bobby Q’s in Norwalk and founder of the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival in Westport, are asking his community to support him in his long battle with cancer.

LeRose, who grew up in Greenwich and now lives in Stamford, is facing new challenges in his fight against a rare soft tissue sarcoma, according to a GoFundMe page launched last month by Tyler Prochnow. Prochnow organized the campaign with a group of LeRose’s friends and fraternity brothers from college.

“He’s been a leader and an inspiration for us for almost 40 years, but his courage and spirit these last 10 years as he’s dealt with this horrible disease has truly been amazing,” Prochnow said Tuesday. “While we are all spread out across the country, none of us felt we could just sit on the sidelines and let he and his family go through this alone.”

LeRose was first diagnosed in 2012 and was given only two years to live. He has beaten the odds multiple times, undergoing multiple surgeries to have tumors removed from his leg, according to his olest daughter Alex, 25.

“Over the last 10 years, it’s been up and down, but it’s never been a situation where we really needed help,” said Alex, who also has a younger sister Meghan, 22. “The last year and a half, dad got sick again. This (campaign) came at exactly the perfect time.”

LeRose now requires physical and occupational therapy five days a week so he can receive necessary blood transfusions and immunotherapy treatments.

The therapy will help him accomplish simple tasks such as getting in and out of bed and general mobility, according to the GoFundMe page. The funds will also help pay for a three- to four-month stay in an acute rehab facility which is necessary for LeRose to build up the strength to start his therapy.

The original goal was set at $75,000, which was surpassed on Tuesday. The ultimate fundraising goal is currently set at $100,000.

Alex said her family couldn’t have anticipated how quickly the funds have been raised.

“We’ve all been crying today for different reasons,” she said. “We didn’t think we needed it, but we realized it would be nice for someone to do this for us. To see the people my dad has impacted coming around, it shows how special he is.”

Contributions have come from a wide variety of supporters, including LeRose’s childhood and college friends, family and close acquaintances, people who have enjoyed his restaurants and the music festivals, as well as complete strangers who saw the campaign and wanted to support LeRose, according to Prochnow.

“Like Bob and his family, we are overwhelmed at the response from all parts of Bob’s life,” Prochnow said. “We could not be more grateful for this outpouring of support and hope everyone who reads this will try and find a way to help.”

All of the donations have left the LeRose family speechless. One anonymous contributor gave $20,000, but whether someone gives a large donation or contributes $10 or $20, Alex said it has been nice to see people take a second to appreciate her dad.

“It means more than words can express to him and my mom,” Alex said. “Our hearts feel full.”

Throughout his treatments, LeRose has never slowed down, which is why many don’t know how serious his condition is, according to his daughter. He continued to plan the annual Blues, Views & BBQ festival and opened new locations of Bobby Q’s in Greenwich, which has since closed, and in Norwalk. The restaurant was located in Westport from 2004 to 2016.

Even from his hospital bed, he’s still taking catering orders.

“Every time I visit, he’s asking what he can get me — some rice pudding, water, a Gatorade,” Alex said. “He’ll say its harder, but I don’t know anyone who could go through this like him.”

She added, “Dad has done everything he can do alone. Now, he needs more and he deserves it.”