Friends, patrons plan benefit for local restaurateur

Friends and family of Millstone Restaurant proprietor and general manager Julie Bilinski have planned a May 9 benefit to help with the medical costs incurred after a March 13 car crash that landed Bilinski in the hospital with a serious spinal cord injury.

The crash occurred as Bilinski and her 15-year-old son Ricky Henry drove home from the restaurant last month and hit a patch of loose gravel, sending the vehicle off the road into a tree and throwing Bilinski from the car. She spent weeks in the hospital, paralyzed from the waist down, though Ricky did not sustain injuries from the crash.

Bilinski was released from the hospital Friday but will spend another week or so in a hotel while her home is made wheelchair accessible, Prosser said.

To help alleviate the medical expenses and ongoing costs associated with the crash, restaurant patrons and community members have organized a benefit.

About Bilinski

Bilinski, an Elbridge resident, opened the Millstone Restaurant at Millstone Golf Course about four years ago, after working for a decade at an Applebee's in Auburn.

Nona Gormley remembered when she first met Bilinski, she was a single mother of three working full time and going to school full-time to finish an associate's degree, all while working to start her own restaurant.

When she opened the Millstone Restaurant and Bar, it was a labor of love.

"This is her baby," Gormley said of the restaurant. "She's basically been running the restaurant from her hospital bed by phone."

It was only natural that a benefit in Bilinski's name be held at the restaurant. But, always putting the customer first, Bilinski would not allow the restaurant to be closed to regular diners during the event.

"She's always working to make sure the customers are accomodated," Gormley said.

That attitude helped Bilinski form a connection to her patrons - the same customers who would come together in Bilinski's hour of need to organize the benefit.

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