Come laugh to save lives at Seattle Children’s

May 4, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

It’s not every day you get to laugh for a good cause, but on May 6, that’s exactly what Issaquah residents can do.

The Clare Beckett Guild and Vino Bella are hosting a comedic event to raise money for Seattle Children’s.

Proceeds from the show and silent auction will go to the Uncompensated Care Fund at Seattle Children’s, which allows families with children unable to cover the cost of medical care access to care for free, said Judy Gaffney, the guild’s president.

The guild is named for Gaffney’s and co-founder Brooke Shumaker’s children, who were both treated at Children’s in the first days of their lives.

“We feel blessed by our experience at Children’s,” Gaffney said. “They did a tremendous amount of caring for us. And though we were there with 19 other families, they made it seem like we were the only people in the unit.”

Gaffney’s daughter Clare was born at 28 weeks with a very rare chromosome condition July 4, 2006, which necessitated that she be cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s. That condition took her life four days later, Gaffney said, but with the help of the medical team at Children’s, she and her husband were able to hold their daughter and hear her cry prior to her death.

“After we lost our daughter, we went through the grieving process part of this and at the end we realized we don’t want people to forget about her or that we had her,” she said. “It was certainly traumatic and painful and we wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but if they have to go through that, we want anyone who needs that care to be able to receive it at Children’s.”

Beckett Shumaker, Brooke Shumaker’s son, will turn 1 in June. Without the early diagnosis and care he received at Children’s in the first week of his life, he may have died.

Beckett was diagnosed and put on life-saving medication for a rare heart condition called cardiomyopathy. The disease often plagues adults, but is extremely rare in infants, Brooke Shumaker said.

After their experiences, both mothers wanted a way to get involved and give back to the hospital that gave them so much, but neither had a lot of time, Shumaker explained.

“The people there are wonderful. They go above and beyond in every possible way,” she said. “I feel like they saved my son’s life and beyond that the care they give is for everyone, not just for those who can afford it.”

Children’s serves families from Alaska, Washington, Idaho and Montana, the largest area served by a children’s hospital in the nation, she said.

The pair never planned to have the guild do anything but bake sales, Gaffney said. But with the inspiration and an event road map from Claude Blumenzweig, Vino Bella’s owner, the two women expanded their vision, and the silent auction and comedy night was born.

“Claude has been extremely tremendous to us,” Gaffney said. “He gave us a great outline, showed us how to do it and who to call.”

Ten percent of the food and wine sales from the night will also go to support the guild, which is amazing, she said.

For the silent auction portion of the evening, local businesses like Creekside Angling Company and Jak’s have donated items. Family members, friends and artists have also donated items, like custom made earrings, recycled glass necklaces, and trips to Hawaii and Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.

All proceeds from the auction will go directly to Children’s.

“I am excited to see how much success we have,” Brooke Shumaker said. “The good people can do by supporting Children’s goes beyond here. I think it is great that we can touch so many different people from so many different areas.”

If you go

Laugh for Life

  • 7-10 p.m. May 6
  • Vino Bella
  • 99 Front St. N.
  • $25 in advance or at the door
  • For advance tickets, e-mail

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