"I had to say goodbye to my girls and everything," said David DeNicolais, owner of Bella Italia Pizzeria. "It was really tough. You know...just in case."
A father of two and a Wake Forest business owner, DeNicolais says he was careful to not contract COVID-19 but not careful enough.
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"Running a business, having people come in and out, having to enforce mask policies, trying to protect everybody, it's a lot of work," DeNicolais said.
DeNicolais lost his sense of taste and smell about two weeks ago. Since then, he says he's been fighting to stay off a ventilator in the ICU for nine days.
"I've got two little girls that want their daddy home...so I'm getting there," he said.
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Fortunately, he says he's getting stronger every day. But it's clear DeNicolais will spend this Christmas in the hospital and this is usually a time he'd be collecting toys and giving back to his community.
"I never thought I'd be in this place," he said. "I'm not quite one to know how to receive."
But DiNicolais says he's one of the lucky ones to have support. So this year his Christmas wish is our communities will come together to protect each other.
"Stay home and keep your loved ones close. Enjoy what you have because you really have a lot," he said.
A friend of DeNicolais started a meal train for him and plans to use money leftover from the donations to provide PPE to small businesses so they can protect their customers.