It’s hard to believe that Phil Citta has been gone for nearly 16 years but my memories of him are as clear as ever.

Every time I walk into The Office Restaurant and Lounge in Toms River I expect to find Phil behind the host station wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt with reading glasses dangling around his neck.  Unfortunately even he could not beat pancreatic cancer but despite his absence and changes over the years I will always think of The Office as “Phil’s Place” and I’m certainly not alone.

You know you have left an indelible legacy when after you die your birthday is still celebrated and that’s what will happen tomorrow.  Phil would have turned 76 Monday and like they’ve done every year since 2006 family and friends will honor a life well lived with a birthday party, one that comes with a noble purpose.

In what has become a winter tradition The Office will host its 15th annual Phil Citta Memorial Fundraiser which benefits the cancer center at Community Medical Center that was established in his memory shortly after his death with a $1 million donation from his family.

Wednesday’s fundraiser is an all-day, all-night event with The Office to donate 50% of all their sales plus 100% of the many and I mean many raffles that will take place throughout the day.  There are always some great prizes like bikes, Broadway show tickets, autographed memorabilia and plenty of gift cards and it’s another way for you to support the cause.

The first 14 fundraisers have resulted in more than $280,000 being donated to the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center which offers a comprehensive approach to cancer care with a full range of treatment options and support services.  This allows local patients and their families to get quality cancer care without having to travel outside of the area.

So whether you stop in The Office for lunch, dinner, sushi or a cocktail after work Wednesday you are helping a great cause as they try and surpass the $300,000 mark. You are also helping keep the memory alive of one of the true good guys!