Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
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Mary Bilyeu

Polish dinner will benefit transplant patient

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    Dave and Colette Nowak

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    From left are Bill Werynski, Chef Ed Gozdowski, adviser to the Owens Culinary Arts and Hospitality Association, and Mary Ellen Werynski at the Irish Dinner.

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Dave and Colette Nowak


Chef Ed Gozdowski of the culinary arts department at Owens Community College regularly helps out with good causes in the area by preparing special meals for fund-raisers. On Saturday, one of those causes will be very personal: He’ll make a traditional Polish dinner to help a friend who’s dealing with significant medical bills.

Dave Nowak had a liver transplant on Jan. 24 of this year and said that, thankfully, he’s feeling “better every day.” His illness was so significant, said Mrs. Nowak, that doctors here in Toledo referred him to Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor for treatment and the subsequent transplant.

Mr. Nowak had been treated for cancer more than 30 years ago, which “spread to his liver, lung, and his eye,” said his wife, Colette. He lost sight in his left eye before the disease went into remission. 

Although her husband has been doing better lately, he had a scare at the end of the summer, said Mrs. Nowak. “He was in rejection, big time,” which the couple had known was a risk. Treatment involved yet another hospital stay and IV steroids administered both as an inpatient and at home after discharge.


From left are Bill Werynski, Chef Ed Gozdowski, adviser to the Owens Culinary Arts and Hospitality Association, and Mary Ellen Werynski at the Irish Dinner.


“His medication is very costly,” said Mrs. Nowak, with insurance only paying a portion of it. “Just for [anti-rejection] medicine,” she said, the couple pays $500 per month; this is in addition to other co-pays and remaining costs related to the surgery. Although Mr. Nowak has met his deductible for 2017, “we start over” in January, his wife said.

Mr. Gozdowski is a friend of the family through their church, said Mrs. Nowak. That church is St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 511 Main St., Sylvania, where the fund-raising dinner will be held from 5-11 p.m. Saturday.

The menu includes kielbasa from Stanley’s Market, chicken, cabbage rolls, pierogi, sweet-and-sour cabbage — Mr. Gozdowski proudly serves his late mother’s recipe — green beans, dessert, and beverages, all for $12 per person. Mrs. Nowak will be making Polish coffee cakes for the dinner using her mother-in-law’s beloved recipe. If she has time, she said, she’ll make some for the event’s bake sale, too.



Mr. Gozdowski is grateful for all the support his friends have received for this dinner. “Gordon Food Service gave us a $300 gift card” to put toward buying supplies, and sales manager Scott Eisel is arranging for donation of ground beef for the cabbage rolls. “I’ve got several Owens alumni [and] three or four of my current students” helping to prepare the food, the chef continued, along with several parishioners to comprise “a crew of seven or eight people.” Jim Robb will be the DJ, and Jim Heller will run the live auction; a silent auction will also take place.

Proceeds will benefit Mr. Nowak through Help Hope Live, a nonprofit that assists with fund-raising for those in catastrophic situations, in conjunction with the Great Lakes Liver Transplant Fund. A $25,000 goal has been set for Mr. Nowak, with more than $10,000 still needed.

For more information about the dinner, contact Mrs. Nowak at or go to the page for “Dave Nowak's Polish Dinner Fundraiser 11-11-2017”on Facebook. To make a donation to Mr. Nowak’s health care fund, go to

Contact Mary Bilyeu at, and follow her at

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