PITTSFIELD -- For more than 25 years, J. Joseph Breault has been one of the guys to go to in the Pittsfield community for anyone in need of help, friends say.
Local schools, UNICO, the Jimmy Fund and a host of individuals have known his generosity.
Now, after a motorcycle accident on Merrill Road in August left Breault badly injured with a long road to recovery, friends are asking the community to repay the favor.
A "continuous pasta buffet" has been scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Italian American Club on Newell Street that will benefit Breault and his family.
"It's a bunch of friends coming together," said Denis Doucette, a friend of Breault's since grammar school, who's helping to organize the event. "Joe and [his wife] Holly needed the help and we needed to step forward and do the right thing."
The dinner promises to help the family cover the cost of a "staggering mountain of medical bills," according to a press release.
Breault, 58, suffered a neck injury, a broken leg, broken ribs and a collapsed lung in the Aug. 31 crash. He was treated at Baystate Medical Center, transferred several weeks later to a rehabilitation center in Braintree and recently returned to Berkshire Medical Center.
Breault, 58, who owns Jimmy's Restaurant on West Housatonic Street, returned home late last month from inpatient rehabilitation at BMC, according to Gerry Doyle, a friend of Breault's for 35 years.
"Everybody thought he'd be in the hospital much longer," Doyle said. "But he's strong; he's a fighter."
Doyle and Doucette each reported Breault in good spirits.
"His morale is great," Doucette said. "He realizes how lucky he is to have survived this terrible accident, and it's put a whole new focus on his life."
Doyle said community response to the upcoming fundraiser already has been impressive. Businesses and individuals alike have sought to help out in organizing or donating to the event.
"The community is the best part," Doyle said. "It's unbelievable. You would think [all the restaurant owners] are always in a fight against one another for business. But when there's a tragedy everybody sticks together. I think that makes Pittsfield special."
"Joe never refused anybody and people are responding to that," Doucette said. "They don't forget."
In addition to serving as treasurer of the Jimmy Fund against cancer, Breault for years organized the 6.7-mile Legendary Lake Run around Pontoosuc Lake, an effort that helped raise thousands for the fund and the Pittsfield Family YMCA. He's also dedicated countless hours to coaching and advocating youth sports in the city.
Doyle said he expects around 500 people to come out for the dinner.
"It will be huge," he said.
To reach Phil Demers:
or (413) 281-2859.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD
If you go ...
What: Fundraiser to support injured restaurateur Joseph Breault
When: 4 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14
Where: Italian American Club, Newell Street, Pittsfield
Cost: Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the Italian American Club