Dan Whitley, lead singer for SunShade 'n' Rain, talks about the "caught-in-between" people - those families who are suddenly faced with catastrophic medical bills.
They're caught between bankruptcy and solvency, life and death, happiness and sadness, help and financial destruction.And if you're caught between Christmas and New Year's with no place to go, SunShade 'n' Rain and the Danny Whitley Cancer Foundation are sponsoring a benefit concert to assist Stacy Whitehead, a 41/2-year-old leukemia victim.
The concert is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 28, at 7:30 p.m., in the Cottonwood High School auditorium, 5717 S. 1300 East. Donation/admission is $5 per person or $20 per family, with tickets available at the door or in advance at several locations around the valley.
Danny Whitley, Dan's son, would have been 16 years old this year. The foundation bearing his name was formed during the boy's 8-year battle with cancer. He died three years ago, but the foundation remained intact.
So, Dan Whitley knew he had to get involved somehow when Charles Whitehead, who operates La Prensa Printers in Midvale, talked to him about some of his options after learning that Stacy was stricken with cancer.
Whitley is familiar with Whitehead's concerns and feelings.
"He's walking down the same path I walked years before," said Whitley. "But even miracles cost millions. The expenses for Danny's treatment mounted to nearly half a million dollars, and we couldn't qualify for any state or government assistance until we had lost our home and other possessions."
It's the humiliation of hitting rock bottom before any of the assistance agencies step in that Whitley hopes to help the Whiteheads avoid.
The Whitleys lost their former home in Willow Creek but were able to survive with the help of many friends and neighbors.
Whitehead said his daughter was diagnosed in mid-September. She's in remission now but is involved in an intense two-year therapy and treatment program.
Stacy is the youngest of the Whiteheads' five children.
Whitehead said he had initially talked to Whitley about what some of his options were while waiting for a decision on his insurance. (The family had purchased insurance the first of September - two weeks before Stacy's condition had been diagnosed - and the question of "pre-existing" conditions are being debated.)
Whitehead said he's not destitute, but he hopes to head off some problems before the financial situation reaches catastrophic proportions. He noted that most charitable organizations are set up either for medical research or for helping those who have reached the point of being financially distressed.
For the benefit concert, SunShade 'n' Rain will be joined by their band and a children's chorus. They'll sing a variety of Christmas songs and many of their most-requested favorites.
Tickets are available from ZCMI in the South Towne Mall, Dan's Foods in Holladay and Sandy; Day Murray Music, Murray; Seagull Book & Tape stores in Salt Lake City, Murray, Bountiful, Sandy and Taylorsville; La Prensa Printers, 7035 S. 400 West, Midvale, or from Dan Whitley Studios, 8554 S. 1300 East.
Whitley also said he's available for others who are in the "caught-in-between" cycle who want to write to him or who just want to talk things out. He indicated the possibility of forming a support group for parents and families caught in similar dilemmas.
"I'm not alone," he said. "I know there are others who are asking `Why? Why this helpless little boy or helpless little girl?' Meanwhile, we live in this very expensive society where medical care is practically prohibitive."
He noted that some hospitals, such as Primary Children's Medical Center, do provide services whether or not a family has the financial resources, but others will send collection agencies after those who are unable to pay the medical bills.