SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If Bobby Thomas is blessed with one thing, it's the gift of connecting with people. Day in and day out, he holds court at the butcher counter of Andronico's Market in San Francisco's Inner Sunset. Doling out fresh cut steaks, and slices of joy.
"Watch this," he tells a smiling young girl as he juggles containers behind the counter.
But while he's become an institution to customers, Bobby the butcher is actually juggling a double life. For more than two decades Bobby has been swapping his white butcher's coat, for a white bunny suit, bringing a different kind of joy to children at Family House. The facility at Mission Bay is a home away from home for families who stay while their young children undergo cutting edge treatment at UCSF.
"I bring them toys I bring them donations from everybody I know. My primary objective is to get the kids so happy and excited that they forget they are sick," says Thomas.
"He's a big kid himself. So he knows how to play, he knows how to amuse people," says Family House CEO Alexandra Morgan.
Morgan says that before Family House, some low-income parents slept in their cars or hospital waiting rooms during treatment. But staying at the modern facility they build critical friendships with other families, cooking in communal kitchens, and bonding with parties and games year-round. It's made possible with the help of private donors, some wealthy, others just amazingly committed.
"What Bobby has done brilliantly, for years, is reach out to people who wouldn't even know about Family House," says Morgan.
And now, Bobby is reaching out again. He's organized what would have been his 50th birthday party into a giant fundraiser at the Folsom Street Foundry south of Market.
He says it's a night of dancing, free chocolate, and the music of his music idol Prince.
"The excitement is knowing that every dance move, every penny that you've donate is going to these children," he says.
Along with carrying on a legacy of support, started by a man some families see as a Butcher, a Bunny, and a local hero.
Family House Fundraiser Dance Party is Saturday, July 13, at 7 p.m. at the Folsom Street Foundry, 1425 Folsom Street, in San Francisco.
If you would like to make an online donation go here.
A Butcher, a Bunny, and a Local Hero: Man's 2 decade mission to bring joy to sick kids