Friends throw a fundraiser for a fundraiser
Less than a year ago, Pamela Alford dropped everything in her busy life to donate her production skills for two local fundraisers: one at Club Suede for friend, Dena Gennerman, who amassed bills totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars after a bus accident in Egypt, and the other at Butcher’s Chophouse to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Deservedly, and perhaps unfortunately, now it is her turn to be on the receiving end of a benefit.
Sunday, Alford’s friends will be throwing a three-hour bash in her honor at the Asian sushi bar and restaurant Shabu in an effort to raise money for medical expenses following Alford’s two surgeries on her right leg to remove malignant cancer cells.
"Pam has always been super busy, and we were busy last Sundance [in 2005,] but she put together an event for Dena," recalls Sofia Mileti, a close friend of Alford’s who is helping to organize Sunday’s event. "One thing after the other, she’s always been there for people. I know if anything happens to me, she would be the first person to help. She would do it for us, so it’s our turn to help her."
The fundraiser begins at 3 p.m. and will feature the Park City band A-Frame’s reggae, funk and blues music, along with food provided by Butcher’s Chophouse, Done To Your Taste catering, and Shabu. Squatter’s and the Wasatch Brew Pub will donate the beer.
A live auction including fly-fishing trip packages, a year-long membership to Silver Mountain Sports Club, personal training, outdoor gear, spa treatments, ski diving for two, restaurant and catering packages and local artwork.
Alford is decidedly tickled that her friends are helping her, though she admits it is strange to be on the other side.
"I just feel so lucky that my friends are coming together and the community is coming together to support me," Alford says. "But it’s also very hard. When I was putting up flyers for Dena I would work 16-hour days and now, when I go somewhere and I see a flyer with my picture on it, it brings up a lot of emotions. You’re a little bit overwhelmed."
Though Alford has health insurance, she is in debt. The fundraiser will collect donations through entry fee, raffle items and the auction in an effort to pay her medical bills, and offset the months she has spent recuperating, without a full-time job.
Alford has been coping with her health since she threw Gennerman’s fundraiser at Suede. In an ironic twist of events, in the midst of finalizing the details for Gennerman in May, Alford was diagnosed with melanoma.
The cancer had struck the same leg she had previously had six surgeries on, she says. In the summer, Alford had two surgeries, one, which removed lymph nodes and a good portion of her upper thigh, and the second was a cadaver bone graph in her lower part of the same leg. Alford was non-weight bearing for six months after the surgeries.
It was expensive, according to Alford, and she says she has thousands of dollars of bills to pay and "every little tiny bit helps," she says.
As part of the event Sunday, Alford’s friend MaryBeth Mazzone have invited an insurance expert from C&W Premiere Insurance Agency to answer questions.
"The expert will be there for people to query him about whether they have the right coverage, since a main reason for this fundraising is because Pam is so in debt," Mazzone explained. "We want to raise the awareness of why Pam’s so in debt and want people not to be in the same situation."
For more than a decade, Alford has jumped from San Francisco to her home base in Boulder, Colorado, to Park City to work as a manager for the Olympic Committee at Deer Valley and run the filmmaker’s lodge for the Sundance Film Festival. She was able to remain in Park City to recover, in large part because of the generosity of David Belz, the owner of The Shop Yoga Studio, who supplied her with housing.
The willingness of the community to help has also made it easier on Alford’s friends, who whipped up the event in a matter of weeks and during ski season.
"This town is really good that way we just called people and said, hey, someone in our community needs this help, and everyone pitched in," Mazzone reflects. "A lot of us have been here for 16 years. Pam has been here for 12 to 15 on and off, and you get to know the people who work here and there and everywhere I just called and asked."
Alford can walk with the help of two knee braces, but is still waiting for doctors to give her a cancer free letter. She is looking forward to Sunday, she says, and at times needs to be reminded that she doesn’t have to proofread the invites. The event is for her.
"It’s hard to do a fundraiser for a fundraiser," she says. "I’m just so fortunate to have an amazing group of friends here that really care about me and obviously want to give back and keep me strong and take care of the community as well."
The fundraiser for Pamela Alford will be held at Shabu, located on the second floor of the Main Street Mall at 333 Main Street. Tickets are $20 at the door. The event is from 3-6 p.m. Cash donations go to Wells Fargo Bank and can be made out to the Pamela Dore Alford Beneficiary Cancer Donation Fund Account No. 3189131943.
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