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Giving Back: Garage sale in Perry Levet’s name set May 15-17

GARYVILLE — Tanya Roccaforte was there when her sister’s son, Perry Levet, was struggling with cancer and hospice care became a reality.

Perry Levet

Perry Levet

“I went to stay with my sister,” Roccaforte said. “One of the nights, when it was my turn to take shifts, (Perry) and I had a talk. He said, ‘You know, Nanny, people have been so generous and kind to my family, my daughters and my mom and dad throughout my duration of this illness.’ He said, ‘I know I can count on you and some of our friends to go out there and help other people in need.’”

According to Roccaforte, Perry wanted to pay forward the gifts he received by making sure kind gestures, such a gas cards, utility bill payments or gifts baskets, could be shared with those suffering from cancer.

Lawrence “Perry” Levet Jr., 45, died Jan. 26, 2014, following a year-long battle with leukemia. He left behind daughters Gabrielle, Jeanne and Maddy, along with dozens of friends and family, including his godmother, Roccaforte, who made sure Perry’s vision to help other cancer patients would survive and thrive.

With the help of more than a dozen others, Roccaforte formed Perry’s Posse as a nonprofit corporation that raises money to touch the lives of people with cancer.

The group is hosting its second annual Perry’s Posse Huge Garage Sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 15-17 at Garyville Gym, located off Church Street in Garyville at 127 GYO Road.

Organizers have already collected an impressive haul of items for sale to the public at discounted prices, including furniture, toys, clothes, baby clothes, baby furniture, bicycles, exercise equipment, computers and more.

“Anything we can pick up, we pick up,” Roccaforte said. “We tell them don’t hold anything back. If we can sell it, fine. If we can’t, with the remaining (items,) we call the battered women’s organization in LaPlace, and they come pick up anything we have left. It’s donated to them.”

Roccaforte said donations are pouring in, and community members have been generous.

The first garage sale in 2014 raised more than $7,500 in three days, and organizers are hoping to top that support this year.

Those interested in donating are asked to contact Roccaforte at 504-416-8093, Lynette Canales at 504-559-2499 or Trudy Bourg Torres at 504-201-1459 to arrange pickup and delivery.

Torres, a dedicated member of Perry’s Posse, has a special connection to the group, as her husband and father died of cancer and her brother is currently battling the disease.

“The people we are helping always thank us, but they are the ones who inspire us,” Torres said. “Every little thing helps, even the little and small things we can do.”

Organizers said all money raised is funneled back to local cancer victims who live in St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles Parishes.

Group members’ progress can be tracked on their active Facebook page, which can be found by searching “Perry’s Posse.”

Perry’s mother, Jo Ann Levet, said she is very surprised at the growing support shown for Perry’s Posse by the community.

“It’s been over a year, and they have really worked hard,” Levet said. “In the beginning, I just couldn’t get caught up in it. I couldn’t take it. My husband and I, after the first anniversary of Perry’s death, decided this is going strong and we need to be a part of this with them.

“I just think those (in Perry’s Posse) are special people who work so hard. They are just down-to-Earth people with big hearts who will do anything for you. They are doing this from the heart.”

Roccaforte said the group’s motto is “quitting is not an option,” a mantra she said Perry used during his year of suffering with leukemia.

In addition to the garage sale, Perry’s Posse members will serve pastalaya as part of the fundraising effort May 16, starting 11 a.m.