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A crowd full of support for high school senior fighting cancer

Friends, family and strangers come to his aid

Posted: October 11, 2009 7:40 p.m.
Updated: October 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus High senior Jonny Borondy, far right, sits with his family in their living room. From left are James Reick, Andrea Borondy, Jonny's sister, and his mother, Connie. Jonny is fighting cancer.

Sandwich shop owners Steve and Laura Youlios never had to close their doors an entire hour past closing time.

That was until crowds of people began lining up at 10:30 a.m. and formed a continuous line outside Jersey Mike’s Subs in Saugus until 10 p.m. on Sept. 23.

Those crowds consisted of friends, family members and total strangers who picked up a sandwich to support 17-year-old cancer victim Jonny Borondy, of Saugus.

“We raised over $2,000 for the family and sold over 1,000 sandwiches,” said Laura Youlios. “With the heat and everything, people still waited patiently in line.”

Jonny was diagnosed with cancer in February. His battle has had its ups and downs, but Jonny said sometimes it feels like “all of Santa Clarita” is supporting him.

“People he doesn’t even know are saying (to him) ‘keep going, you’re almost there,’” said Jonny’s sister Andrea Borondy.

The line wrapped around Jersey Mike’s most of the day, Laura Youlios said.

“It was just an amazing display of affection and maturity on the part of these kids,” said Steve Youlios.

Steve and Laura had never met Jonny until that day.

“It wasn’t about the sandwiches, it was about supporting this young man,” Steve Youlios said.

Helping with expenses

“My priority is my son right now,” said Connie Borondy, Jonny’s mother.

But at the same time, as a divorcee and single mother, Connie Borondy knows she must work for income and insurance.

But when it comes to those out-of-pocket expenses that her insurance and income can’t cover, that’s where her friends, Jonny’s friends and even total strangers can and have helped.

“It’s been really helpful, financially and emotionally,” she said. “I do feel lucky. We have really good friends – all of us.”

The Borondys have had consistent support from Connie’s friends, Kim Hollis, Mary Osborn, Claudia Padilla, Kelly Hwang and Natalie Patow-Gilabert.

“We’re trying out best,” said Osborn, of Saugus, who initiated the Jersey Mike’s fundraiser with Hollis.

“Things don’t happen unless you’ve got cooperation and with the cooperation and love (of Steve and Laura Youlios), it turned out to be an exhilarating day.”

Osborn and Youlios made 1,500 fliers for the fundraiser. But once word spread across schools in the Santa Clarita Valley and after Jonny shared some of his story on the Saugus News Network at Saugus High School, it reached hundreds more.

Osborn said the total raised on the day of the fundraiser was $2,800, once jar donations were added to the $2,300 from the sandwich shop.

“It shows we’re not in this by ourselves,” said Andrea Borondy. “There are other people thinking and praying about us.”

Missing life but staying positive

As Jonny watches his Saugus marching band friends march onto the field during school events, he can’t help but yearn to walk with them as he drums in the stands.

“I’m happy I’m there, but it’s not the same when you’re standing on the sidelines compared to being on the field,” he said.

Jonny has spent time away from his swim team, marching band and school and he misses it all, he said.

When doctors told Jonny, now a high school senior, that his cancer had not gone away after four chemotherapy treatments, he felt as if a bomb had been dropped on him.

But besides the depleted sense of freedom he experienced in that moment, his family said, for the most part, he’s remained calm and patient throughout his cancer battle.

Jonny is expected to undergo two more rounds of intensive chemotherapy along with a bone marrow transplant that he and family hope will save his life  within the next month, Connie said.

He admits that going through it all is not easy, but he tries to keep a long-term perspective.

“Even though months have gone by and I have to keep going through the chemo, it’s such a short time compared to what my life afterward would be,” he said.


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