Downers Grove community rallies around bakery owner battling COVID-19, raising over $100K

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- A west suburban community is rallying around a small business owner battling COVID-19.

Chuck Kalousek, who owns the Busy Bee Bakery in Downers Grove, likely needs a lung transplant after contracting the virus.

"He would be so ingratiated at this point, to know how the community has just been outpouring financially, and prayers," said Katie Kalousek, Chuck's wife.

Chuck Kalousek is on a ventilator, fighting for his life at Northwestern Memorial. The husband and father of two contracted COVID-19 nearly a month ago. Even as his condition deteriorated, his primary concern was his family business and the community it serves.

"He had such a concern for the bakery," Katie Kalousek said. "He was so, so worried about the business all the time, and I would tell him, "You worry about your health first. The business next. All the community will be back to support you."

Family friend Melisa Mackevicius-Leonard is making sure of it. She started the Go-Fund-Me page with modest hope it would help with medical and business expenses.

"I didn't think we were going to get a thousand dollars at first," Mackevicius-Leonard said. "I didn't realize how powerful all of this could be."

As of Thursday, the fund has amassed more than $114,000 and Melisa now has a theory about why so many people are eager to help.

"Any business, if something goes wrong, especially a family-owned business," Mackevicius-Leonardsaid. "If something goes wrong, it has a waterfall effect where multiple things start happening and they understand the fragility of all that."

As Chuck is evaluated for a double lung transplant, friends, neighbors and even strangers are helping to keep the family and their spirits - afloat.

"I know there's miracles and, obviously, inching through this day-by-day, those miracles are coming to fruition. I see it," Katie Kalousek said.

Chuck started working at The Busy Bee when he was 16 years old. He and his wife have owned the bakery for the last 22 years.
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