BERKELEY – During a fundraiser held for Gerald LaCrosse, owner of der Wunder Wiener, he told folks gathered that he wanted to come back and rebuild.
He didn’t say those comments in person, unfortunately. He was speaking over a cell phone projected out of speakers. He was still in the hospital.
The fundraiser was held on the site of the Beachwood Mall, where the Wunder Wiener had been. Two local PBAs, Berkeley Local 237 and Beachwood-Pine Beach Local 253, organized it. They had a trailer and tables set up, selling hot dogs, snacks, drinks, 50/50 tickets and t-shirts.
They held the event on three days, and all three days were busy. On Saturday, a beautiful, sunny day, there were so many people there that they had to handle traffic.
The fundraiser will help with medical bills. He had been inside the food truck on the morning of June 11, when an SUV heading south on Route 9 left the roadway and destroyed the truck. The crash is still under investigation.
His niece, Charissa Fromm, said that he still has a road ahead of him.
“But he is very motivated because of the love and support of everyone around him,” she said. “So he is working hard to make progress little by little. He and the family are so thankful for everyone’s continued support.”
That gratitude could be heard in his voice.
“Gee whiz, I’m at a loss for words, here,” he said. He thanked his family for being by his bedside. He also thanked the outpouring of support from the community. When he was told of how busy it was, he couldn’t believe it.
“Normally, I wouldn’t have a line on the best day of the year for crying out loud,” he said.
“I just don’t know how to put it into words,” he said. “It certainly makes me want to get back there. I will do what it takes” to recover and rebuild. He said he’s not sure whether he’d name the new truck Wunder Wiener 2 or Wunder Wiener Jr. but he definitely wants to come back. This elicited applause from the crowd gathered at the fundraiser.
Justin Geib was one of many people on line for hot dogs, talking about how he grew up going to der Wunder Wiener. He said probably everyone around here has a story like his.
One time, he told his parents he was going to ride his bike there but his parents wouldn’t let him, because it was on Route 9. He snuck out just to go for a hot dog, because it was the best around.
Philip Schena, president of the PBA for Beachwood-Pine Beach Local 253 said that they probably sold about 7,000 hot dogs, and 400 shirts that sold for $10 each. Even when there was a torrential downpour, people were coming out in droves.
Chris Shick, the state delegate for the Berkeley PBA, said they made about $18,000 during the fundraiser.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe had been set up by Fromm and LaCrosse’s son, Jerry. It can be found at gofundme.com/gerald-lacrosse039s-huge-losshelp. As of press time, it had raised approximately $11,500.