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To help teen fight cancer, North Texas man offering flight in WWII replica fighter

Jim West says he felt compelled to give back to the community that's given him so much

BRIDGEPORT, Texas — As the owner of Paisano’s Authentic Pizza in Bridgeport, Boo Kadrioski can handle just about any request.

But he says, last month, one customer caught him completely off guard.

“I was shocked by it,”Kadrioski said. “I didn’t expect anyone to be doing this for us, but kind of overwhelmed at the same time.”

The customer who surprised him was Jim West, who eats at Paisano’s at least once a week.

He says the food is fantastic, but what really brings him back is the friendship.

“They’re as close to family as I’ve got in this area,” West said.

That’s why West was devastated the day he came in and saw a note on the tip jar. It said every tip collected will be given to a girl fighting cancer, Kadrioski’s 16-year-old daughter Dena.

Last month, Dena was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. With treatment in the thousands, Kadrioski wasn’t sure how to afford it and keep his restaurant open.

“It hits you like a ton of bricks,” Kadrioski said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, especially it’s your child, you just don’t know.”

“I wanted to help,” said West. “So I told him what I wanted to do and I said, ‘is that ok?’”

West, a retired Air Force and American Airlines pilot, wanted to use his skills to raise money for the family, something he has a passion for.

In the past, he’s flown for Raquel’s Wings, an organization that flies cancer patients — free of charge — to receive treatment.

Since retiring West bought a replica World War II fighter plane, a Thunder Mustang. It can fly at 400 mph, pull nine G-forces, and do all sorts of aerial acrobatics.

“There might be one or two people out there that would like to get in that airplane and see what the fighter pilot life’s like,” West said.

That’s how West got the idea to sell raffle tickets. The winner gets a ride in his plane.

West isn’t taking a single penny. All the money will go directly toward Dena’s cancer treatment.

“Words can’t really express what you feel when someone does that,” Kadrioski said. “It makes you want to break down and cry.”

“Put yourself in their shoes,” West said. “If you needed help and you couldn’t do it on your own and someone could come along and just help a little, how [would] you feel? I guess I grew up old-fashioned, you help your neighbor.”

Helping your neighbor. With people like West, that’s an idea bound to take off.

West is selling raffle tickets for $25 each and a winner will be chosen after Sept. 20. He will also give a flight to anyone who makes a $500 donation.

To enter the raffle or purchase a flight, text Jim West at 817-994-1083.

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