Benefit set to help former bar owner

2012-10-15T00:00:00Z 2012-10-15T13:57:03Z Benefit set to help former bar ownerJoyce Russell, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222

SOUTH HAVEN | Two months after Becky Wilkie closed her business, she and her family were hit with some devastating news.

Wilkie, 45, was diagnosed with leukemia in August. She's undergone an initial round of chemotherapy to kill the cancer in her blood, said daughter Ashley Cotton. While technically in remission, Wilkie, who owned Riff Raff's, a bar on U.S. 6, will have to undergo a bone marrow transplant to ultimately beat the disease.

Her family is sponsoring a benefit for Wilkie, at which they hope to raise money to help the family financially, but also hope to find as many potential bone marrow donors as possible by offering free bone marrow donor testing, said Cotton.

Wilkie, the mother of three children and three stepchildren, and the grandmother of three, has been treated at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. Her husband, Billy, took a voluntary lay off from his job when she was diagnosed and is now working a temporary job, said Cotton.

Cotton said the donor tests will be conducted by Be the Match Foundation — the national marrow donor program. Potential donors only have to allow a cotton swab to be swiped in their mouth. Appropriate participants will be placed on a national registry and could qualify as a donor for Wilkie or anyone else in need of a bone marrow transplant.

The benefit will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at Clancy's in the Portage Mall. In addition to the testing, it will feature a meal, beer, raffles and a DJ. T-shirts and bracelets will also be available for sale to help the family. Tickets are $10 per person.

Tickets will be available at the door or by contacting Cotton at (219) 309-4315 or by email at

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