Group Organizes Fundraiser for Local Woman After Unexpected Diagnosis – East Idaho News | Region & Cash

IDAHO FALLS – A local business owner’s unexpected diagnosis prompted a group of women to organize a fundraiser on her behalf.

Flaminia Assirelli, a 50-year-old Italian immigrant who opened authentic Italian restaurant Mama Fla in Idaho Falls last fall, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April.

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Speaking to EastIdahoNews.com, her husband Marco explains that his wife is preparing for a mastectomy next month after having a lump removed in May and months of chemotherapy.

Another lump has since returned and the couple opted for surgery instead of radiation treatment. They hope this will be the solution to a full recovery.

“There is a 90% chance that no further therapies will be required after the operation,” says Marco. “That should be the last step. You never know (for sure), but it depends on the post-operative pathology report.”

Although Flaminia is generally in a good mood and does her best to keep busy with the restaurant, Marco says she has been struggling with lack of energy and fatigue lately.

She’s stressed and a little afraid of the procedure, but Marco says, “She’s a tough woman.”

Marco and Flaminia Assirelli in their restaurant in October 2021. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

The Assirellis relocated from Rome to Idaho Falls in 2019 and have been awaiting their final US citizenship interview for more than two years. Without citizenship, they cannot get health insurance, which means medical care is quite expensive.

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“Without (citizenship) there is no social security and without social security there is no health insurance,” explains Marco. “In this situation without insurance, it’s not easy.”

Idaho Falls’ Nari Ann Mendenhall reconnected with the Assirellis in 2020 after first meeting them in Italy more than 30 years ago. Since then, she and Flaminia have become best friends and the Assirellis are like family to her.

Upon hearing of Flaminia’s struggles, Mendenhall decided to help.

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She and others have volunteered at the restaurant over the past few months to keep it running during a labor shortage. According to Mendenhall, Flaminia was concerned that the restaurant would be able to “keep this ordeal going” and the help had been a blessing to her.

Mendenhall is now working with her daughter Emily Heaton and Heaton’s sister-in-law Jessica Zaugg on a fundraiser to help the Assirellis with medical expenses.

A Flock & Walk will be held in downtown Idaho Falls on August 28th. The event begins at 11 a.m. in front of the Mama Fla booth at the Farmer’s Market on Memorial Drive. Those who attend will flock “like a herd” to their restaurant at 385 River Parkway one block west.

Prizes and gift baskets will be available from local businesses and will be awarded to the highest bidder in a silent auction.

There are also raffle tickets for sale that can be entered into a variety of sweepstakes.

“All the money goes to Marco and Flaminia,” says Mendenhall. “Flaminia will be four weeks post-op at this point and so … it’s going to be a fun environment for people to find out how she’s feeling.”

herd and go
Flock & Walk Event Flyer | Nari Mendenhall

Mendenhall expects it to last until 3 p.m. She asks participants to wear a pink shirt or something with flamingos on it to raise awareness of breast cancer.

If you are unable to attend, you can still donate to a GoFundMe account on behalf of Flaminia.

“We love (the Assirellis) so much and know that many in the community do too,” says Mendenhall. “This is an opportunity to show that love and support.”

As many have stepped in to help during this difficult time, the Assirellis are grateful for the kindness and generosity they have received.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” says Flaminia in response.

“We are very thankful and grateful,” adds Marco.

Mendenhall is looking for companies that would like to donate a gift basket or raffle item to the event. If you would like to contribute, email narimendenhall@gmail.com or call them directly at (208) 403-6842.

Our attorneys tell us to include this disclaimer in fundraiser stories: EastIdahoNews.com does not guarantee that funds deposited into the account will be used for the benefit of those named as beneficiaries.

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