Wading River design firm to raffle off table for a cause

Jason and Samantha Nagorski, owners of Wading River’s REN Design Company, are hoping the next table they make will be special enough to make a dream come true.

The round table, made of live-edge African Douka wood, is five inches thick with a diameter of 75 inches and is worth up to $20,000. It will be raffled off to help Ms. Nagorski’s father, Ricardo Rivera, realize his dream of seeing Alaska, after he was forced into retirement with rare stage 4 metastatic gallbladder cancer. The table doesn’t have a base yet, Mr. Nagorski said, because they will work with the raffle winner to select the style.

The Nagorskis hope to raise $9,081 to cover the cost of an 11-day land and sea cruise in Alaska for Mr. Rivera and his wife, not including airfare. They have set up a fundraising campaign at that has raised $3,688 since July 9. Those who wish to enter the raffle can do so at Anyone who donates $50 or more at either site will automatically be entered in the raffle, which currently has 36 participants, Ms. Nagorski said. 

According to Mr. Nagorski, only four slabs of the Central African wood were available on Long Island, and he purchased three of them

“[The wood] was just actually in the corner of the lumber yard that I get all my wood from for all my projects and I’ve seen it sitting there for years and years and I finally asked about it,” he said. “So I made them an offer … then I just did it with no real idea of what to do with it. I just fell in love with it and then actually, the day it got delivered was the same day we found out the news about Ricardo, so we came up with this idea to raffle it off.”

Mr. Rivera has always wanted to go to Alaska, and planned to spend two weeks there and see as much as possible of “The Last Frontier” after he retired.

“We’d always talk about going here or there and Alaska was always his place,” Ms. Nagorski said. 

Mr. Rivera was a volunteer firefighter for many years, and helped on-site in New York City after 9/11. Last September, he was diagnosed with cancer. After his gallbladder was removed, doctors suggested another surgery for his liver.

“Then when he went in for the other surgery, and they opened him up, they realized [the cancer] already hit a bunch of other organs,” Ms. Nagorski said.

While they haven’t yet scheduled the Alaska trip, they hope to get there by April, Mr. Rivera’s health and Alaskan weather permitting.

“It’s one of those battles where you want to get him there as fast as possible because we don’t know — with this cancer, the chances of making it a year are not great but the chance of making it to five years is 2%, so we know it’s such a short time, but it’s [also] the battle of Alaska — everything freezes over,” Ms. Nagorski said.

The Nagorskis said the community support has been incredible. In early July, they made a video and posted it to Facebook, where it’s had more than 98 shares, and Instagram, where it received over 200 likes..

“The response has been great,” Ms. Nagorski said. “There’s been so many people willing to share the story.”

A timeline for when a raffle winner will be chosen has not yet been finalized, but , the Nagorskis encourage all those who enter to keep a close eye on their Instagram, @rendesigncompany, and Facebook, REN Design Company Inc., where the winner will be announced.