Sad news from Lummi Island Chef Blaine Wetzel of Willows Inn. The award-winning chef is reaching out after his fiancée, Raquel Ruiz Diaz, was in a serious accident in Paraguay, where she was hit by a drunk driver while running. She has suffered over 20 fractures and is still in the hospital in South America, in need of multiple surgeries over the next few months, as well as a long stint of rehab. Diaz is the restaurant's general manager.
Wetzel is raising money for her medical expenses. He has set up an online fundraiser for her and will also be hosting dinners in the next few months at Willows Inn to help her on the path of recovery.
Wetzel tells Eater Diaz has been moved from a "really bad hospital" to one that's "usually for celebrities and other high-profile people in South America." She doesn't have insurance and, according to Diaz, the hospital requires a pay-as-you-go plan. Wetzel started the site not just to raise money for her "astronomical" expenses, but also so people can pass on messages to Diaz, who has four more surgeries to endure after a successful first procedure.
Willows will be hosting two fundraising dinners on March 30 and April 13, both at 5 p.m. There are no tickets for sale for the events, and no reservations. Rather, Wetzel tells Eater he will be cooking Paraguayan dishes from Diaz's mother's recipes. Diaz will be Skyped in for the events, so people can talk to her on a big TV during the dinner.