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Bistro plans a helping hand

(ran SE edition)

Four years ago, Diane Arnett met a 2-year-old boy who warmed her heart. Little Michael Guilatiere lived in the same neighborhood and was as cute as could be.

Now, it's Arnett's turn to warm the hearts of the Guilatiere family.

Sunday, Arnett and others who work with her at the Big Apple Bistro are throwing a benefit for Michael, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

The benefit will be from 3 to 10 p.m. at the bistro, 4000 Central Ave., and will include an auction of such items as weekend stays at beach resorts, dinners and Jetskis.

Area bands, including T.C. Carr and the Catch, Hollywood Dave and the Hotheads, and the Nightcrawlers will perform. Also, Willie McClendon, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back who played collegiately at the University of Florida, will be on hand to sign autographs.

The money is being raised to help defray Michael's medical bills. His family, which lives in the Disston Ridge area of St. Petersburg, has been feeling the pinch even more because Michael's mother, Claudia, quit her job at a grocery store to spend more time with him.

Claudia Guilatiere said her family is grateful for the fund-raiser. "I don't know how to put it in words, it's great," she said. Michael, now 6, might show up Sunday if he's feeling up to it.

He is in remission, but he was just released this week from All Children's Hospital, where he had been fighting chicken pox. It can be quite dangerous when coupled with leukemia, his mother said.

He goes to the hospital every week for chemotherapy. He also must go every other week for three-day visits. The chemotherapy bill has come to $4,800, and he has three years of chemotherapy ahead of him, his mother said.

Michael's mother hopes the boy's positive attitude will get him through the tough times.

Many items to be auctioned will be donated by various bay area professional sports teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Storm.

For information, call Big Apple Bistro owner Phil Traynor or manager Arnett at 327-5784.