A BENEFIT DINNER for terminal cancer patient Joe Zimmerman of Conneaut, shown here with 7-year-old daughter Desirae Jo, will be held Saturday at Conneaut's Fire Station 4 on North Amboy Road.


Staff Writer

CONNEAUT - - Illness may have robbed Joe Zimmerman of his strength but definitely not the support of his many good friends.

Zimmerman, 29, suffers from brain stem cancer that was diagnosed in October. The prognosis is grim.

"He was given a year to live by his doctors," said Tina Ernst, Zimmerman's companion of several years.

Zimmerman was laid off from his job at Conneaut's General Electric plant shortly before receiving his diagnosis. As a result, the family - - which includes three children 13, 10 and 7 years - - is struggling under a mound of medical bills stemming from his treatment.

Lending a hand are friends of the family, who have arranged a benefit, buffet-style dinner between 4 and 9 p.m. Saturday at Fire Station 4 on North Amboy Road in Conneaut. In addition to the dinner - - which features rigatoni, ham and chicken - - the event will feature various games and a Chinese auction.

A benefit dinner last month was well attended, Ernst said.

The family has leaned on family and a network of friends for support. Many are Zimmerman's pals from school - - he graduated from Conneaut High School in 1995. Others are fellow car enthusiasts, Ernst said.

"Joe was very active in restoring cars," she said. "Now he can't do any of that."

For information on the dinner, contact Ernst at 440-813-8025

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