Two days ago, Natalie Madsen and the other stars of BYUtv's sketch comedy show "Studio C" created a GoFundMe account to benefit fellow cast member Jason Gray and his family after his daughter, Alice, had a brain aneurysm. As of Tuesday afternoon, the GoFundMe campaign is just over $4,000 shy of reaching its goal of $48,300, leaving the "Studio C" family filled with gratitude.
“As ‘Studio C,’ we’ve been able to meet a few families where their child is sick or they’ve gone through cancer treatments or they’re going through really hard things, and they’ll say, '"Studio C" has helped us get through,'” Madsen said. “And we’ve always been so appreciative of people who say that, and it’s always meant so much to us, but to have something happen to us like this to be on the receiving end of that kind of service is just so humbling and so amazing.”
Following Alice’s aneurysm and subsequent surgery, the cast members looked for a way to help. They waited several weeks before creating the GoFundMe account because they weren't sure that they would be able to raise enough money to make a significant contribution. Madsen said they didn’t even know if they could raise $10,000, and they didn’t want to ask too much of people.
“(Alice) will need long-term care, and it’s going to be a long road of recovery and physical therapy and equipment. Jenny (Jason Gray’s wife) worked part time, and she will have to stop doing that in order to facilitate physical therapy full time,” Madsen said of what the donations will cover.
The cast is amazed by how quickly the funds have been raised and by the love and support of the fans.
“It is extremely humbling and overwhelming to see, one, that people are just extremely good and, two, that ‘Studio C’ has really meant something to a lot of people and that Jason has really touched a lot of lives, and I’m just grateful to be his friend," said Mallory Everton, a member of the "Studio C" cast.
Some of the GoFundMe donations have been accompanied by comments about how "Studio C" has impacted viewers.
"A few years ago, I was going through a very difficult divorce and often had days where I struggled to find the strength to carry on," M Sawyer wrote. "At that time, I randomly came across 'Divine Comedy' on YouTube, which many of the 'Studio C' were a part of. You guys helped me get through some of the most difficult days of my life and helped me to find the joy and laughter again. I wish I could afford to donate more, but I hope this will help your sweet daughter in some way."
Caroline Westiver, another contributor, also expressed appreciation.
"Our family is praying for yours," she wrote. "Thank you for the laughter you brought to our son when he was sick last year."
Fans have also indicated that they made sacrifices to contribute to the campaign, and "Studio C" cast member Whitney Call said this experience has helped the cast connect with their fans.
“We’ve had people say they are giving their Christmas money and people who have had similar experiences with losing children or having children in the hospital,” Call said. “It’s really just been so amazing and so humbling to see that as much as we loved our fans before, I had no idea how many wonderful people out there knew about us and what we do and are so connected to our work that they’ve been willing to chip in and help.”
According to Madsen, Alice is improving each day. Madsen attributes Alice's recovery to the prayers and faith of the community.
“If faith is anything in a situation like this, it’s hope — at least just a tiny light in a situation like this that you can say, 'It will be OK,'" Everton said. "I’m not sure how, but it will be OK, and I think we were all on the same page with that.”
The cast members recognize that Alice's road to recovery may be long, but they are grateful for a strong support system.
“I can’t tell you enough about this group of people," Everton said. "I love them so much, and I’m so grateful for them. They really are my family, and I think that we’ve really all gotten each other through this. I am eager to be there for Alice and Jenny and Jason in any way that I can through the rest of this process. I’m just extremely grateful to all of the people that have helped us.”