Wunder Wiener Owner, Back On His Feet, Gives Thanks

Councilmen Ed Zakar and Gerald LaCrosse catch up during Beachwood Community Day. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

BEACHWOOD – Gerald LaCrosse is faced with yet another new challenge.

It’s not just the therapy to retrain his arms and legs to do what they’re supposed to. It’s not just to figure out his finances now that his main source of income is gone.

It’s how to say “thank you” to everyone who provided help and encouragement these two long months.

“Thank you” are just two words, and they aren’t enough to match the gratitude that’s in his heart.

A lot of prayers and good thoughts were sent his way. He heard them loud and clear, and maybe someone upstairs did, too.

He looked at the crowd at Beachwood Community Day, knowing that some of the people there helped out in the fundraisers, but with no way of knowing how to thank them.

As he sat at one of the benches by the stage, people kept coming over to say hello and ask how he was doing.

Gerald LaCrosse, back to his usual antics, shows friends how he can turn his cane upside down and golf with it. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

“I shouldn’t be feeling the way I am,” he said. Doctors had told him he would be in the hospital for two months, and then in a rehabilitation hospital for another two to three months. Yet, two months and a day after the crash, he was home.

“Whether it was prayers or everyone’s good wishes, I don’t know. Something got me out of bed,” he said.

LaCrosse was seriously injured on June 11 when an SUV veered off Route 9 and totaled der Wunder Wiener hot dog truck, while he was inside.

Doctors are making him walk with a cane, although he was able to show friends how he can turn it upside down and golf with it. His right arm is in a sling, and he has limited mobility right now. They had to remove his spleen and some intestine, which implies a lot of just how bad his internal injuries were. He celebrated his 74th birthday in the hospital.

But minutes after describing his own physical challenges, LaCrosse was talking about the empathy he feels for other people in his situation. There are a lot of other people who have gone through debilitating injuries – and they’re not doing as well as him.

Photo by Chris Lundy

“Psychologically, I feel good. I know I lost a lot but there’s nothing I can do about that,” he said.

Financially, the hot dog cart was his livelihood, and that’s gone now. He hinted at his medical bills, with some very high numbers.

Fundraisers are helping with that. Two local PBAs, Berkeley Local 237 and Beachwood-Pine Beach Local 253, set up a hot dog stand for a weekend. On Beachwood Community Day, they presented him with a check for $15,000. They also had an envelope with checks in it that people had donated.

Additionally, a GoFundMe had been set up by his niece, Charissa Fromm and LaCrosse’s son, Jerry. It can be found at gofundme.com/gerald-lacrosse039s-huge-losshelp. As of press time, it had raised more than $11,500.

Between those two fundraisers, his social security, and some pension money, he and his wife Beverly can make it until he opens der Wunder Wiener 2 sometime in the future.

Photo by Chris Lundy

“It’s humbling. You don’t know how to express your thanks,” he said. He expected maybe 200 people to come to the PBA fundraiser, but it was in the thousands. Even on the day in downpoured. He never knew that he had such an impact on people. “I just thought they like the hot dogs.”

The best thing he can think of is to pay it forward – to take their positivity and build on it. “It makes you feel really special, and that is what makes you want to do more for them.”