West Chester University students have recently come together in order to raise money for John Berberich, staff member at WCU’s Einstein’s Bagels, who is being treated for a brain aneurysm. Berberich is well-liked by students due to his positive attitude and unique way of taking orders.
Even with lines of students wrapping around the building daily, Berberich either guesses, remembers or asks for every customer’s name. He is also famous for his clever jokes and genuine smile.
WCU students Darby McKee, Lexi Zink and Joshua Dandridge started a project named the “WCU Loves John Project” in order to gain support for him.
As stated on the WCU Loves John Project GoFundMe page, Berberich was recently diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, which requires high-risk surgery.
The WCU Loves John Project said that Berberich is currently being treated by the Department of Neurosurgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and will undergo surgery in the summer.
In order to pay for the surgery, Berberich plans on continuing to work at Einstein’s Bagels. To decrease Berberich’s workload and help him pay for his surgery, the WCU Loves John Project gave students a platform to donate money to his fight.
The fundraiser for Berberich started on GoFundMe.com on Wednesday, Feb. 22 and has gone on to raise more than $15,000. The number is still continuously rising, with a goal total of $50,000.
The team of students who created the page state, “John always knows how to shed light in our lives—so here is our turn to do the same in the dark time he is going through.”
Their online fundraising page currently has over 4,000 shares on Facebook. Other organizations on campus, such as sorority Kappa Delta, have been expanding the fundraiser in order to reach even more students.
On Friday, Feb. 24, Kappa Delta collected money for Berberich’s surgery outside of Lawrence Dining Hall. They encouraged people passing through the dining hall to donate a dollar, write a note to Berberich and sign their name on a paper bagel.
Student organizations have directly donated money to the GoFundMe campaign, including the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi. One student donated $100, saying, “Asiago bagel with onion and chive cream cheese please.”
Berberich wrote a letter addressed to students, faculty and his Aramark colleagues on Thursday, Feb. 23.
“You all have a special place in my heart. Over the past few years I realize how much you mean to me. Each and every one of you has a special gift… and you have allowed me to share these gifts—however great or small,” Berberich said in the letter. “Whether it’s a smile, or words of encouragement, please understand how important you all mean to me. I cannot begin to explain how much your efforts have touched me and my family.”
The letter went on to explain his condition and projected surgery dates.
Berberich has two daughters who are WCU alumni. One is a teacher in the West Chester Area School District, and the other is in her second year of medical school and is also a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
In addition, Berberich’s wife is also a WCU alum. According to the group organizers, the family has reached out and expressed gratitude.
In attempts to meet their $50,000 goal, the WCU Loves John Project team hosted their first meeting on Friday, Feb. 24 with representatives from interested groups on campus. The project hopes to bring clubs together in order to centralize their efforts. There are also plans to hold an event to support Berberich.
“We wanted to give back to someone who gives so much of himself everyday,” said McKee, one of the organizers of the project.
If you are interested in learning more about the WCU Loves John Project or to support his cause, visit their donation page at www.gofundme.com/john-wcu-einsteins-bagel-guy.
Grace Harvey is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at GH872279@wcupa.edu.