in memory of their best friend Katie
For siblings Bill Coniaris and Eleni “Stammy” Coniaris, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine holds a special place in their hearts – hearts left empty when they lost their beloved dog Katie. Giving back to the community, including to Cummings School, is one way they have tried to fill their hearts. When Katie became sick, it was a compassionate and caring veterinary team who made such an impression that the Coniarises launched an Annual Car and Truck Show at their restaurant, Pete’s Bluebird, to raise funds and give back to Cummings School. Thirteen years later, the Pete’s Bluebird car show is bigger and better, and is driving in a record number of attendees and supporters.
Ms. Coniaris recalls how thankful she was that her local veterinarian, Kenneth Shea, DVM, referred Katie to the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Cummings School. After Dr. Shea discovered a tumor in her neck, he felt Katie would have access to the most up-to-date cancer treatment technology at Foster Hospital. Katie underwent both chemotherapy and radiation to treat her tumor. Ms. Coniaris became a regular at Foster Hospital for 5 weeks, as she took the ride to Grafton where Katie received radiation every day. It was this advanced treatment that gave the Coniaris family another six years of quality time together with Katie. Ms. Coniaris said, “they didn’t just take care of Katie. I, too, was cared for, made to feel welcome and like a member of the Cummings School family.”
Held each year in June at Pete’s Bluebird in Bellingham, the 13th Annual Car and Truck Show took place on June 11, 2017. Originally owned and operated by their father Peter Coniaris, a Greek immigrant, the restaurant is now owned and operated by Billy and Stammy. Pete’s Bluebird is a landmark in Bellingham, well-known for its juicy steaks, and featured on The Phantom Gourmet in recent years. The Car and Truck Show is held in the oversized restaurant parking lot, but with a growing number of vehicle entries and attendees, parking overflows across the street. Many people show up largely because of the care that Billy and Stammy have shown the community in which they live.
Billy and Stammy show a tremendous commitment to their community through their giving to Cummings School, as well as other local causes. Each year, Cummings School has been an annual recipient of funds raised at the Car and Truck Show and we are very grateful for their ongoing support. Through their philanthropic giving, they support our mission to prepare the next generation of veterinarians and provide the finest possible health care in a healing, compassionate environment.
When interviewing the Coniarises, it was immediately clear what compassionate individuals they are by the stories they told of Katie. Mr. Coniaris shared how they took 8-year-old Katie in as their own when it became apparent that she needed a new home. The love that they showed through their adoption of Katie and in the short six years they had together is immeasurable.
There is no doubt that level of caring is perpetuated as they keep their best friend Katie’s legacy alive with all that they do to improve the lives of others.