The Denver Actors Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in June 2013, is a source of immediate, situational relief when members of the Colorado theater community find themselves in situational medical need. The Denver Actors Fund offers both financial and volunteer assistance. In 2020, the DAF served as a temporary source of emergency income replacement at the start of the COVID shutdown.
The Denver Actors Fund is a grassroots volunteer service that takes the old "telephone tree" concept of helping members of our community in medical need and responding in an immediate, organized way. It is intended to be a safety net to help families tackle financial problems in times of medical crisis.
In the summer of 2017, actor Abner Genece and his 11-year-old son were nearly killed on a Wyoming highway when they were rear-ended by a semi-truck going at least 60 mph. Their injuries have required multiple surgeries. Abner now has nine metal plates in his body supporting him. The Denver Actors Fund not only paid $6,373 toward his medical bills, DAF volunteers provided ongoing practical help with everyday needs such as meals, cleaning and transportation.
Just 10 days after actor Daniel Langhoff and wife Rebecca Joseph welcomed their second daughter into the world, Daniel died of colon cancer. The Denver Actors Fund provided the family with about $14,000 in support during their battle, and about $75,000 after Daniel's death to help provide for the future well-being of his children. Before his death, Daniel said: "We live in a world where so many of us wish we could make a difference and to change the world in a positive way. The Denver Actors Fund actually does this with everything they do."
Actor Sue Thompson endured the terrible tragedy of a daughter dying when she was eight months pregnant. To add to her misery, Sue had to be induced and deliver the child. The experience left Sue and husband Tyler not only devastated, but with out-of-pocket hospital and doctor bills that added up to $4,944. The Denver Actors Fund paid for all of it. "When I was told the DAF wanted to pay for all of my medical debt, I was blown away," she said. "I had taken an extended leave from work, which was a huge financial burden. Knowing I no longer had to worry about the debt I had was the best news I have received in many months. I will be eternally grateful for the generosity of DAF and their many donors."
Loveland actor Faith Ford recently was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at only age 24. Surgery to remove her tonsils, adenoids and lymph nodes left Faith with a staggering post-insurance, out-of-pocket hospital bill of $5,600. And she still faces a second surgery to remove the thyroid and take an injection of radioactive iodine. Faith has been told to expect her share of the medical expenses to exceed $20,000. The Denver Actors Fund has paid $5,120 (so far). "The help and comfort I have received so far is heartwarming," Faith said. "I am so grateful to the Denver Actors Fund and everyone who is a part of the theatre community and supports live theatre and the Denver Actors Fund. Every person makes a difference no matter how small you may feel your impact is. You have changed my life, and that is a gift."
Actors Jenny Weiss and Eric Mather welcomed son Myles into the world weighing just 1 pound, 9 ounces. Myles spent two months in the neo-natal Intensive Care Unit at Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital. The Denver Actors Fund paid don their portion of the medical bills by $2,575. "The last few months of our lives have been an incredible blessing with the arrival of our son," said Eric. We just want to thank Denver Actors Fund and the community for helping us in this time of financial need. It really does take a village."
The same week actor Chad Afanador's wife gave birth to a daughter named Edith, Chad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's disease, and suddenly he was undergoing a lot of chemotherapy. "A lot of people helped, but (Denver Actors Fund volunteer) John Arp was the biggest help. Using funds from the DAF, he brought food up to our house every week for the entirety of my chemotherapy," Chad said. Having John cook for us has been life-saving. I had quite a few days in my cycle with fatigue, John really went out of his way to help our family, and his endurance is what we most admire."
Actor and director Sheila Ivy Traister: "I slipped on the ice and separated my shoulder, tore a hip ligament, blew out my knee and suffered a severe concussion that still affects my vision. In trying to pay my medical bills, I exhausted all my resources. I used up my savings and my retirement, and the Denver Actors Fund cut me a check for $1,800. That helped me pay my mortgage, my food and my utility bills for two months. When I received that check, I cried a lot of happy tears. I felt loved and supported by this community of actors and patrons, a lot of whom I don't even know."