Drago's celebrates birthday with a cause

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 11, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 11 at 6:42 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS -- The crowd came early to celebrate Drago Cvitanovich's 90th birthday at the restaurant he founded in 1969.

Even his doctor is astonished by his vitality.

"You don't see many people who don't complain about anything, and Drago never complains, never,” said Dr. Leonard Kancher.

There was a huge birthday cake to celebrate nine decades for a man who is still a fixture at his restaurant.

"He is really, really excited. He is just all smiles, and he is all hugging and singing Happy Birthday to himself,” said son Tommy Cvitanovich.

The Cvitanovich's have a long history of helping others, and decided to use the profits as the base of a drive to raise $90,000 for the St. Bernard Project, which has rebuilt over 440 houses for Hurricane Katrina victims so far.

"We have 130 clients on the waiting list, and we get 10 requests for help every week,” said Zack Rosenburg, founder of the St. Bernard Project. “What blows my mind, Bill, is the average age of the callers we get every week is 61 years old. These are people who should be heading to their golden years, but are struggling."

Ever since the St. Bernard Project was founded in 2006, thousands of volunteers have come from all over the country and around the world. They've made donations to help rebuild the homes of hurricane victims.

But as that help begins to wind down, St. Bernard Project's founders are urgently seeking help from the New Orleans residents.

"We have volunteers a day,” Rosenburg said. “We could still use more, especially on the weekends from local folks. But we need dollars for building supplies to finish this recovery."

It costs $20,000 to $30,000 to complete each house, so help is appreciated from people like Peter Quirk, who bought extra breakfasts at Drago's.

"I was asking Tommy if I can get 20-25 breakfasts to bring down to the homeless folks under the interstate,” he said.

Tommy said, "To give back to a city that has been so gracious and giving to us, it's a pleasure."

If you want to make a donation to the St. Bernard Project in honor of Drago Cvitanovich's 90th birthday, call the agency at 277-6831, or click here.

Also, if you see a small white and red sign wishing Drago happy birthday, grab it, and take it to the restaurant Thursday. The ones they put up are worth up to $100 each, their thanks to customers.

 

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