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Benefit for Wilkins sees support from friends, family

PERU - The North Country has shown its support for one of its own affected by cancer.

Crickets Restaurant hosted a spaghetti dinner benefit for AuSable Forks native and now Peru resident Robert "Bob" Wilkins May 31, with dozens of people pouring through the doors to offer words of encouragement and financial support to defray his medical expenses.

The amount of people who turned out for the event amazed both Bob Wilkins and his wife, Lisa, who were in attendance with their three children Melinda, Bobby and Christa.

"I almost feel guilty people gave up a nice Sunday to come here for this," said Bob Wilkins, who spent the afternoon mingling with family and friends. "We've seen so many people we haven't seen in years. It just makes me feel bad that we haven't kept up with them."

However, there's been much on Bob Wilkins' plate in recent months, since being diagnosed in April with stage four colon cancer.

"The shock of it's over," he said. "Now, we're just trying to speak with as many people as possible who've made it through similar experiences and getting their feelings and thoughts. It's easier on us knowing there are people who've beaten this."

Lisa Wilkins agreed as she sat with her husband in a booth during the benefit. The two, who were high school sweethearts, will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in July.

"Life without him would be devastating," she said.

Though there is a long road ahead for her husband, Lisa Wilkins said she feels the support and kind words their family have received has made all the difference.

"It's been very overwhelming, but our friends and family have been wonderful," she said.

Since receiving his diagnosis, Bob Wilkins said his wife and children have been his own personal public relations team, fielding questions about his condition. The chemotherapy treatments he has been undergoing have left him weak and tired at times, leading him to sleep a lot. But, the phone still rings.

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