Many who attended Friday evening's "Love for Lexi" fundraiser for five-year-old Lexi Jacobs don't even know the little girl battling brain tumors. No matter. The concern of the community transcends any lack of personal connection as evidenced by the approximately 315 people who attended the Ceres Community Center event.
Tickets to the event were $35 per person and featured a chicken/tri-tip dinner, beer, wine, raffle prizes and live auction but the star attraction was Lexi herself, even though she has been too weak in recent days to attend school from recent spinal radiation.
The courageous Adkison Elementary School kindergartner has battled three cancerous brain tumors and yet wears a constant smile on her face. When she was two, doctors diagnosed Lexi with an ependymoma on her brain stem after developing flu-like symptoms. The first tumor was removed surgically and radiated which put her cancer into remission. A second tumor developed but was inoperable. It was shrunk with concentrated injections of radiation. A third tumor appeared in late 2016 and resulted in a surgery and radiation. She required a six-week stay at the Ronald McDonald House on the Stanford University Medical Center while doctors radiated her brain and spine. While her prognosis looks good, the persistent medical treatment process - which has included about 60 exposures to radiation in her brain - has caused significant costs for the Jacobs family.
The fundraiser - it sold out two months ago - featured a live auction with 30 items and the giveaway of 50 donated raffle items. Auctioneer Max Olvera bid up the price of three Disneyland tickets to $2,400 and then presented them to Lexi and her parents.
The live auction alone raised over $18,000. It featured such items as Lodi Wine Tasting Tour, rounds of golf, full-guided duck hunting expedition, yoga package, a gun safe, photo session and a myriad of gift packages.
"Her family is also very dear to my heart," said Adkison teacher Sara Cruz, who helped put on the fundraiser for the family. "I had this idea in February and it kind of worked into something really big. I made a flyer and just put it out there and reached out to businesses and had everyone at my school and people in the community start donating."
Cruz used social media to get out the word to a broader audience.
"It was very successful and a great fun event and they got to see all the love and support from the people around them - strangers, people they knew, people they didn't know, people in the community, people outside the community," said Cruz. "I'm very thankful and don't really know quite how to thank everybody."
Lexi is the granddaughter of Dennis Legatos, the long-time former owner of Dennis' Liquors in the Richland Shopping Center; and daughter of Mike and Anastasia Legatos Jacobs.