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Posted on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Amazed by generosity: Cafe Marie raises more than $9,500 for longtime cook with leukemia

By Danielle Arndt

Ann Arbor's Cafe Marie has more than quadrupled its donations for longtime cook Percy Pryor.


A Cafe Marie cook for 12 years, Percy Pryor, center, was diagnosed with leukemia. The staff at Cafe Marie is helping to raise money for Pryor and his family, who also recently lost their home and are consumed with medical bills.

Joseph Tobianski | file photo

Pryor manned the griddle at Cafe Marie for 12 years and rarely missed a day of work. When Pryor unexpectedly was diagnosed with acute leukemia in November, his co-workers and Cafe Marie owner Jeanne Loveland rallied to help.

As of Sunday, the cafe is more than three-fourths of the way to its goal of raising $12,000.

The restaurant began asking for donations for Pryor starting in mid-December. The cook is undergoing chemotherapy but likely will need a bone marrow transplant in the future.

Pryor, his life companion Rachal Potter and their three children fell on hard times even before Pryor's leukemia diagnosis. They lost their housing and were forced to stay with relatives in Ypsilanti and in a hotel for period of time.

Loveland said being homeless could cause Pryor to be ineligible for a bone marrow transplant, as stable housing is a requirement. So, it became the Cafe Marie staff's ambition to raise about $12,000 to cover rent and other basic living expenses for Pryor's family for up to 18 months.

Since news broke in early January of Pryor's condition and the cafe's fundraising efforts, the restaurant has raised upward of $7,600. Added to the approximately $1,900 that the cafe collected in December, Cafe Marie has increased its total to more than $9,500.

"I am amazed by the continued generosity of people in the Ann Arbor community and our Cafe Marie customers," Loveland said.

She said dozens of people have come by the restaurant to donate to Pryor's fund. Many leave notes of encouragement or notes indicating they are contributing in memory of their own family member or loved one who also battled leukemia.

Loveland said she was most surprised by how many people went directly to the Ann Arbor State Bank to donate to "The Percy Pryor Fund" that has been established. She said it has been the most heart-warming experience.

The cafe also is organizing an event at the restaurant on Feb. 23. It will be called "Laugh It Out! Comedy Against Cancer" and feature local comedians to help secure additional funds to make sure all of Pryor's needs are covered, Loveland said.

The show will take place at 8 p.m. with appetizers and drinks an hour earlier. Tickets are $15. There also will be raffle tickets sold for $1 to win various prizes. For information or tickets, call (734) 662-2272.

Pryor continues to do well, Loveland said. He was back at the University of Michigan hospital from Jan. 15 through Sunday for a second set of more intense chemotherapy.

Loveland said Pryor will need to go through six additional week-long hospital visits where his doctors rotate through a "group A" and "group B" set of chemo drugs. There will be approximately four weeks in between these treatments, she said.

"The bone marrow transplant would be after these treatments. So the chemo is lasting longer than we originally understood," Loveland said. "But Percy is staying strong and taking it one step at a time. We have an agreement that no matter how long it takes, he has a cooking spot waiting for him here at Cafe Marie when he's through it."

A donation box is set up at Cafe Marie, at 1759 Plymouth Road. Money also can be given via

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.

Prayers go out to him and his family. Such a great story really shows how integrity and hard work pays off. Its excellent that this cafe is doing such a great thing and am praying for him and his family thru this tough time.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Good luck to Percy, hope he pulls through!


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

That is so awesome! I hope this story gets to the local TV channels as well so they can raise even more money for this gentleman. UofM Cancer Center is a wonderful place...he is in the best hands possible. Well wishes to you and yours Sir!

Julie Baker

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Great to see people helping out in this way. Best of luck to Percy and his family.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Another reason to eat at Cafe Marie - besides the great food!

Jennifer D. Edwards

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Heart touching story, but why does your article state "consumed with medical bills." Doesn't Mr. Pryor have health insurance through his employer?


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

Lets Get Real, simmer down, I think Jennifer was just asking a legitimate question. Doesn't sound to me like she was trying to blame his employer for his illness or anything else for that matter. Way to jump all over somebody.

Lets Get Real

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

Oh yes, Jennifer. Let's paint this employer in a negative light. Let's make sure the employer is responsible for Mr. Pryor's misfortunate illness. Another opinion about the entitlement mentality. Cafe Marie is a small cafe that took a huge hit when Pfizer left that area of Ann Arbor. Jeannie Loveland is a caring, giving small business owner, doing everything she can think of to help this gentleman and his family. Give her some credit. She champions many philanthropic endeavors in the commnity - Huron High School sports, the Woman Business Owners group, Think Local First, and many others. She's taken several unique approaches to marketing to survive, including: offering meal cards to students that offer them considerable savings. She's established this fund, she's collecting donations at the restaurant, she's holding an upcoming fund raiser (are you going, Hennifer?), and you can be sure she is meeting every obligation as an employer to Mr. Pryor. Why don't YOU contribute something, Jennifer. Perhaps it will soften your heart and for a change not "expect someone else" to be responsible. The buck stops with each and everyone of us - so chip in a buck of your own.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Even if he does have insurance, co-pays on such staggering bills can bankrupt the average family very quickly. Hospital stays of only a few days add up to tens of thousands of dollars. A friend who took chemo pills last year was paying $1,000 per pill . Yes, one THOUSAND dollars per pill, for one week each month. Luckily her insurance plan did pick up the whole cost. Mr. Pryor's meds may be pricier. It's also possible that he has reached the plan's lifetime benefit limit, or since he is no longer working, he is no longer covered by insurance.

Paul Taylor

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

The thing that struck me is the requirement of stable housing for a bone marrow transplant. What is the rationale behind this? It seems strange.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

FGR is correct. Plus they basically have no immune system when post-transplant therefore hopping from place to place where they are constantly introduced to "new" sets of germs wouldn't be a good idea. Or if they were in fact homeless out on the streets, they would most likely develop an infection of some sort that with a depleted immune system would be life threatening. At least this is my assumption.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

Anyone that has gone through a stem cell or bone marrow transplant requires intense followup - and support system. Often daily trips to hospital are required - you need caregivers and transportation. It is a grueling treatment and the recovery period is long and arduous. Follow up care is crucial and the transplant team wants to make sure that your living situation can support the aftercare. Stable housing is imperative to this process.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

God Bless this man and his family. What if we want to just mail in a check? Is there a bank that is taking in for them? Leukemia is very difficult to go through. I love Cafe Marie and want to help this man.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

"Loveland said she was most surprised by how many people went directly to the Ann Arbor State Bank to donate to "The Percy Pryor Fund" that has been established. She said it has been the most heart-warming experience." The bank is linked in this paragraph. Click on the link for location information.

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Thanks for the update, Danielle. This is beautiful.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

Good luck to the wonderful folks at Cafe Marie in their efforts to help. Love and Prayers to Percy and Rachal!!!!Auntie


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

How nice to hear that kind of support for a member of the Ann Arbor Community! I wish for Percy a full and speedy recovery. It's also refreshing to read positive stories and not try and make it about someone's pain as the national media so loves to do. Thanks!