Ventura County community rallies around beloved Santa Paula chef battling stage 4 cancer

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Tuesday, September 5, 2023
SoCal community rallies around beloved chef battling stage 4 cancer
David Raigoza, affectionately nicknamed "Chef David" by locals, is known for serving those in need. Now, the Santa Paula community is rallying around the beloved chef as he battles stage 4 cancer.

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (KABC) -- David Raigoza was feeling the love at this year's Santa Paula Labor Day Parade. In this Ventura County community, he's known affectionately as "Chef David."

Being named grand marshal of the parade is a way the city is thanking him for what he's done, and what he means to this community.

"He is what Santa Paula represents. He is all of the kindness, the sharing, the gentleness, the community spirit that every Santa Paulan strives to be," said Nancy Grass, Raigoza's friend.

Through his local restaurant and catering business, he's fed the homeless and others in need. He's been there to help and support community groups and events. Now, the community is rallying around him as he battles stage 4 cholangiocarcinoma, which is a bile duct cancer.

"I'm feeling good and a little tired, but I'm also fighting cancer right now," Raigoza said.

He said he definitely felt the love of his community along the Main Street parade route on Monday. He said being named grand marshal is a blessing, and he understands why Santa Paula did this for him and his family.

"The town looks out for everybody here. It's very community oriented and I do feel the love, and I do feel a sense of family," he said.

Close friends and family have set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for his mounting medical bills.

With the help of his girlfriend and some of his employees, the father of three is still working as much as he can.

"He's that person who's here to serve the community, and this a chance for him to see everybody wave and share their love for and applaud for him and say, 'W see you. We love you and we're here for you,' and he needs that right now," said Deirdre Weaver, Raigoza's friend.

Raigoza says he appreciates the support from his community.

"It's a wonderful feeling. I mean, I don't really know how to explain it. It's a little overwhelming. It' beautiful. I have lots of family and friends who came to see me. It's nice to see them here," he said.