Novotny Community Party set for Sunday
BRECKENRIDGE – Chris Ebert-Santos didn’t know how her family would deal with the mounting hospital bills that flowed in after her son was paralyzed in a Summit High School football game.
But like many in her family’s predicament, she concentrated on her son’s medical problems and let their insurance company deal with the bills. But insurance wouldn’t put food on the table or keep a roof over one’s head – two major bills the family faced after Carlos’s father quit his job to sit by his son’s bedside.
Many empathize with the Santos’ situation, including a woman who gave birth to a premature baby – and then whose other son developed a kidney infection while her husband came down with joint problems.
Another local woman was in the hospital with an unknown disease that required hundreds of dollars worth of prescription medications each month.
A man with a seizure disorder was struck by a car while crossing a street, a former Olympian was paralyzed in a fall and needed a wheelchair and a woman with multiple sclerosis needed a special-needs wheelchair – and each had nowhere else to turn.
All were helped by the John Novotny Memorial Fund for Medical Emergencies. Without that help, several of them agreed they wouldn’t know where they might be today.
“People who live in Summit County and have accidents and have no money and no insurance, they start going to collections, they lose their credit and they come to us,” said board member M.J. Hoppin. “We promised John we’d do it every year, and we have to keep that promise.”
Most recipients are shocked when they learn the board exists – and are elated when they realize the fund might be able to help them.
It makes board members and volunteers feel good, too, Hoppin said.
“They feel like the good Samaritan,” she said. “Every time we have a meeting, we leave thinking, “We’ve helped five people who might go to collections and be hurting for life.’ I never knew all the good we’d do.”
But the board doles out the funds almost as fast as it accrues them and holds an annual party to refill its coffers.
The seventh annual community party to benefit the John Novotny Memorial Fund for Summit County Medical Emergencies is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Carter Park in Breckenridge.
The event began in 1996 when Breckenridge resident John Novotny was diagnosed with a brain tumor and friends gathered to raise money to help with his medical expenses. Novotny, a mental health counselor, said he didn’t want people to hold the event unless the money raised was to go to people throughout the county needing financial assistance resulting from unexpected medical emergencies.
Thus, the Summit County Medical Emergency Fund was born. About $20,000 was raised that summer. It has since helped more than 250 families facing the high costs of unexpected medical emergencies, doling out more than $150,000 over the past seven years.
For a few years, Novotny attended the event, joking and laughing with the hundreds of people who came out for the party. Novotny died in his sleep April 18, 2001.
This year’s party will feature entertainment by local musicians The Kudzoos, The O’Smiths and Summit Jazz Consort. Lunch will include an assortment of food and beverages donated by local restaurants. The silent auction will offer a wide array of gifts and services donated from merchants from throughout the county.
The highlight of the live auction, hosted by Biff America, is a light blue, 1991 Mercury Sable. Also available is a new snowblower, a snow-skate, a kayak, a trip to Key West, golf and ski passes.
Also, children’s entertainment, including a bounce castle, Sumo wrestling suits, jousting, face painting and more, will be featured.
Cost is $15 for adults, $5 for children and free for children younger than 5. If individuals are interested in volunteering for the benefit, contact Chris Ebert-Santos at (970) 668-2114. To donate an auction item, call Kelly Butler at (970) 547-0659.
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