Help sought for a child’s dental needs
December 2, 2017
Ecker Hill Middle School custodian Teri Benedict is facing one of the biggest trials of her life.
Her son Jacob, who is autistic, contracted a serious oral infection and needs extensive jawbone cleaning, tooth extractions and implants.
Benedict's husband, Ross, is currently on disability from a recent work-related accident, and she has been trying to find a way to pay for the surgery.
One day she spoke with Deb DeKoff, the language arts teacher at Ecker Hill, and told her what was happening.
"Teri mentioned that she had taken a good month running around to different dentists to find out what she could do," DeKoff said. "She spent hours contacting Medicaid and various organizations that serve the families that are caring for autistic members."
DeKoff said Benedict found there were waiting lists for everything and would not able to get the help in a timely manner.
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"The dentist, Dr. Wade Peer at Park City Oral Surgery, is working with Teri and was kind enough to reduce the cost of the surgery," DeKoff said. "The operation was originally going to cost $40,000, but he reduced it to $20,000. But the problem is they can't discount it any further."
While Benedict's brother set up a crowd-sourcing page at GoFundMe.com and her family has set up an American First Credit Union account under Jacob Benedict's name, DeKoff decided to take the Benedict's plight to Facebook.
"I sent out a blast to see if anyone could help," she said.
Two people — LuAnn Lukenbach, owner of LuAnn's Cupcakes and Bakery, and Park City resident Lisa McGuire — reached out to DeKoff and offered more than donations.
They wanted to help her start an online auction that would raise money for Jake.
"I was touched by the story," Lukenbach said. "I had a tooth pulled for the first time a few weeks ago and I was a super wimp. But I kept thinking about this poor boy who needed so much dental work. My heart also ached for his mom."
Like Lukenbach, McGuire was touched by what she read.
"I have experience with silent auctions and I felt this was a wonderful cause to jump in and help with," she said.
The three women have been planning to kick off the online auction on Saturday, Dec. 9, but before they do, they want to make sure they have items to auction off.
So they are asking people for donations.
"We would love to have a variety of things to offer, because we want to have a variety of price points," Lukenbach said. "I have been to events that have benefited wonderful causes, but the price point of some of the items started so high that they weren't able to get any of the money I had been willing to donate."
To do this, some of the items will be combined to make gift baskets and other packages, McGuire said.
"So it doesn't matter how big or how small the donations will be," she said. "We will be grateful for anything."
DeKoff said the only drawback is the auction isn't organized by a 501 (c) 3, nonprofit.
"That means the donations, including money and items, aren't tax deductible," she said. "But we know Park City is home to some wonderful people who are willing to jump in and help."