Biting into a cause with relish

By Rachel R. Briere, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Updated: 07/30/2010 08:58:01 AM EDT

Bella Tucker Hot Dog SaleWESTFORD -- Driving around the bend on North Main Street, you hear a faint holler that is barely audible. Traveling deeper into the Forge Village section of town, you're able to decipher two voices in unison.

"Hot dogs! Hot dogs here!"

Two young cherub-faced boys sit on the edge of their folding chairs in anticipation of their next customer. Neatly lined up are the options -- bottles of ketchup, mustard and relish, and on the opposite end of the table, cans of soda, lemonade and bottled water. A half-dozen hot dogs sweat and sizzle while they continuously rotate on the rotisserie.

"They're not the cheap hot dogs. They're Ball Park Franks," boasted 12-year-old D.J. Lagasse.

For the last two weeks, D.J. and his 11-year-old cousin Tyler Winn, both of Westford, have been hawking hot dogs for a $1.50 at the end of their grandparents' driveway. The money raised by the pair at their roadside snack shack will be donated to help with medical bills and other costs incurred by a former next-door neighbor, Bella Tucker.

"After we heard about everything that happened, we were thinking about how we could help out," D.J. said.Bella Tucker Hot Dog Sale

Tucker, 8, relocated from Westford to Londonderry, N.H., about two years ago. On Easter Sunday, she was rushed to the hospital after feeling ill all day and was diagnosed with streptococcus pneumonia sepsis -- a rare form of pneumonia that stopped the flow of oxygen to her arms and legs. As a result, doctors had to amputate all of her limbs because of extensive tissue damage. She spent five days in a coma and has undergone numerous surgeries.

The boys, who will enter sixth grade this fall, hope to raise $500 for Tucker and her family. As of yesterday afternoon, they had already raked in $250 after 14 long afternoons on the busy main thoroughfare. They set up the stand about 11 a.m.. and sell their franks till 4 p.m., with few breaks.

"It's amazing how many people stop," said Tyler's mother, Darlene Winn. "It's a great area -- a busy street with a place for cars to pull off and park."

The mailman stops to buy a drink or a dog every day, according to the boys. Another man also stops every day, and they don't even know who he is. Construction workers driving by stop in for a quick break and even a woman from out of state pulled over for a hot dog while traveling through the area.

One group of kids on bikes pulled up to the stand one afternoon offering a $1 for a dog. The boys stood firm at the $1.50 telling them, "It's for Bella," Darlene Winn said.

"They're hard workers," said D.J.'s mother, Robin Lagasse. "They could be out playing or swimming in the pool, but they're out here every day."

The two plan on working the stand until school begins at the end of August. They then plan to enlist the help of their classmates and teachers to start a new fundraising effort. Tyler Winn will attend the Blanchard Middle School, and D.J. Lagasse will be across town at the Stony Brook School.

"It feels good to know we're helping somebody," Tyler said.

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