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Uptown Locals Hold Birthday Fundraiser for Artist Diagnosed with Leukemia

By Carla Zanoni | August 9, 2012 9:11am

By Sherry Mazzocchi

Special to DNAinfo.com New York

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — There was no cake, no candles and not even a birthday boy at Will Alicea's 40th birthday party in upper Manhattan this week, but those celebrating in his absence kept him close in their thoughts.

Alicea, better known as apparel designer WiLL TeeZ, was unable to attend his party Tuesday night, since he is undergoing chemotherapy at Mount Sinai Medical Center where he has been for more than a month since being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

But friends, neighbors and supporters raised nearly $1,000 at Tuesday's bash at Le Chéile on West 181st Street in Washington Heights to help foot the bill for his medical expenses, since Alicea has no health insurance. Guests paid $10 entry tickets and bought raffle tickets for donated local artwork, handmade soaps and other prizes. Donors have already raised $23,000 since he publicly announced his diagnosis in July.

Alicea said previously that he has an enormous amount of gratitude for the donations.

“I’m often moved to tears by it,” he said.

Inwood locals Lyana Fernandez and comedy and trivia night host Eric Vetter co-hosted the birthday bash, and Fernandez said Alicea is a good friend of hers with deep spiritual values.

“Everything he’s ever told me, I’ve applied to my life,” she said.

Comedian Miguel Dalmau, who was part of a lineup of local comedians who entertained the crowd, said he empathized with Alicea’s no-health-insurance predicament.

Dalmau told the crowd he had no health insurance before getting his current a job at a hospital.

“Before that, all I had was Yahoo! Answers,” he said.

To donate funds for Alicea's treatment, go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/willteez