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Family working to raise funds for injured city man

Submitted Photo For the past month, Jeremy Dolce has been receiving treatment in the intensive care unit at Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. Although he remains comatose, Dolce is beginning to breathe on his own.

For life-long Dunkirk resident Jeremy Dolce, Valentine’s Day promises to be an exciting one, as his second son is due on that special day devoted to expressions of love. It is the Dolce family’s hope that Jeremy will be fully conscious and able to share in that special moment, as he is currently comatose due to a life-threatening accident that took place last month.

On Dec. 17 at approximately 3 p.m., Dolce, owner of EMC Construction, fell off the roof of a house he was building and landed on concrete. “He was extracted from the basement of the house he was working in,” Dolce’s sister, Jillianne Higgs, told the OBSERVER. “They took him by Mercy Flight to Hamot Medical Center in Erie, and he needed immediate surgery. They removed the right half of his skull to allow the brain room for swelling.”

Dolce also broke his right hip, wrist, skull, nose and other bones in his face. He will need more reconstructive surgeries to correct these injuries and replace his skull. “Initially, he was in a medically-induced coma, but sedation has been removed for over a week now,” Higgs explained. “He’s in a self-induced coma now. Our older brother, Justin, said he’s been breathing on his own for two days, but he still has a tracheotomy and the machine to help his lungs fully expand.”

At this time, the amount of brain damage Dolce has sustained is unknown, and he is currently receiving care in the trauma intensive care unit at Hamot. “Jeremy officially has c-diff, which, if you work in a medical facility, isn’t entirely surprising,” said Higgs. “He is being treated for that and pink eye. His poor body is trying to fight so much.”

The Dolce family is working hard to raise funds for Jeremy’s treatment, as the small business owner does not have health insurance. “We’re all Dunkirk born and raised in the 700 block of Park Avenue, and Jeremy has been a life-long resident,” Higgs explained. Dolce, who turns 37 in May, has a four-year-old son and is looking forward to being a father of two.

“With his construction company, Jeremy has done a lot of work in the northern part of the county. He is a business owner, and a lot of times he wouldn’t even take his salary to make sure his employees got paid,” Higgs told the OBSERVER. “He didn’t have insurance, and when it came to worker’s comp, he opted himself out to save the business money, but all his guys were covered. He’s tried so hard to make sure everyone else is taken care of.”

Higgs created a GoFundMe page “Jeremy’s TBI Medical Treatment” as well as an account at Community Bank, N.A. under Jeremy Dolce Benefit Fund. “We didn’t think we’d get this kind of response,” Higgs said. “We’re up to $23,646, minus the GoFundMe fees. I’m just so incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated.”

While they are well on their way to reaching the $25,000 goal, the Dolce family continues to raise money for Jeremy, as the helicopter flight, alone, “basically wipes out what we’ve raised,” Higgs explained.

Higgs, who is the founder of Jamestown-based Laced Up Ladies, a cabaret burlesque dance troupe, is hosting a fundraiser “Anti-Valentine’s” on Friday, Feb. 14 to benefit Dolce’s fund. The event takes place from 8 to 10 p.m. at Jamestown Brewing Company, 119 W. Third St. in Jamestown. Guests can enjoy music from DJ Hector, new comedic acts, special performances, basket raffles, 50/50 drawings and more. Tickets are available on Laced Up Ladies’ Facebook page. Details are forthcoming for another fundraiser in May.

“Our family would like to thank everyone who has already donated, reached out and been checking in on Jeremy,” said Higgs. “We honestly didn’t in a million years think that this many people would care. It’s meant a lot and helped us get through the worst of it. For the entire family, it gives us great comfort to have that support.”

To donate online, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/jeremy039s-tbi-medical-treatment or visit any branch of Community Bank, N.A. to donate funds to the Jeremy Dolce Benefit Fund.

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