Only two weeks after Groovefest American Music Festival cofounder Tim Cretsinger publicly announced his throat cancer, the community at large whipped together a variety of moneymaking ventures to allow the public to pitch in and help cover the expensive proposition of treatment.
Four separate fundraising events are scheduled to take place through the weekend; giving supporters a chance to donate in a way that will fit into their schedules, and their budgets.
The weekend will kick off Friday night at Mike’s Tavern, 9 p.m., with live music performances from: Juniper City, The Pigeons, Bottled Monkey, Bila Gaana and Swift and Sons. There will be drawings to win everything from swim passes at the Aquatic Center to an electric guitar from World Class Pawn.
Mike’s Tavern bartender Monica Hufnal said that some prizes donated to raise funds for Tim were extravagant. She said that tavern owner Mike Wilson donated a three-day, two-night vacation to one of nine locations that included all kinds of bells and whistles, and Cedar Post and Pawn donated a .22 Ruger with a 10 round magazine.
“The gun won’t be present at the bar,” she said. “Instead it’s a gift certificate.
“The winner must be present and able to pass a background check to claim their prize,” she added.
Mike’s Tavern isn’t the only bar with live entertainment that is raising funds for Cretsinger Friday night. The Pablo Sextet and The Western Bone Cleavers, who were already scheduled to appear at Toadz Bar and Grill Friday, are also donating all of the money they make at the door that night to the HOPE and Repair benefit for Tim.
Saturday, Main Street Books owner Megan O’Sullivan said the bookstore will be donating a portion of the day’s total earnings to help, but that the amount would be determined on a sliding scale – the more she sells, the higher the percentage on the scale.
The Grind Coffee House and Cafe, who is usually closed Sunday’s, will open this week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday and has agreed to donate 100 percent of their income for the day. Additionally, resident artists Ryan Durfee, Mason Cottam and Heather Wilhelm each plan to offer their creative musical talents to add ambiance to the event.
All of the funds raised from each event will go directly to the Cretsinger’s to help pay of the already mounting debt accrued due to the inconvenient timing of Tim’s diagnosis.
Tim’s wife, Lisa Cretsinger said that shortly before the end of the year, the Cretsinger’s decided to cancel their policy and upgrade to a better one.
“We had insurance for years and years,” she said. “(We) decided to shop for better coverage at the first of year and so (we) cancelled and blam-o.
“It's agonizing to wait for treatment for Tim 'cause insurance won't take effect until Feb. 1 – cancer doesn't stop growing,” she added.
In the meantime, Lisa said that she and her husband are trying hard to be careful with their money and plan as well as they can; but for now, they are in a financial limbo that she is hoping they can recover from in the not-to-distant future.
“Just one PET scan is $6100,” Tim said. “And the radiation treatment costs would definitely ruin our life as we know it.
“We got a great policy, and with the subsidies we receive from the new health care law, we can afford it; But we'll still have to pay co-pays and at least 20percent of these astronomical costs out of our own pocket,” he added.
As the weeks have passed, Tim and Lisa have shared several updates about Tim’s diagnosis, including the fact that the cancer cells found in three of the four lymph nodes in his throat came back positive for the HPV virus.
“The virus HPV caused cancer in Tim's throat,” Lisa said. “I'm on a crusade to inform others and urge young folks to get vaccinated before they are sexually active to prevent HPV from happening to them and spreading to others.”
While most people are familiar with HPV’s relationship to cervical cancer in women, few realize that the virus can affect men too; but according to cdc.gov, oral HPV is three times more common in men than it is in women.
“Studies in the U.S. have found that about 7 percent of people have oral HPV,” The website reported. “But only 1 percent of people have the type of oral HPV that is found in oropharyngeal cancers.”
Lisa said she was surprised to learn that Tim had cancer in the first place, but she said she was even more surprised to learn the type of cancer that he had. It is quite possible, she said, that the two of them passed the virus back and forth to each other. She said she would be going in for an exam after Feb 1 to confirm whether there are viral cells present in her body as well.
“Obviously we have both been exposed to the HPV virus,” she said. “It can lay dormant for many years before causing health problems; there (are) still so many unknowns about this virus.”
If enough people vaccinate early, Lisa said she believes it would eliminate the virus from American culture. She said that there is comfort in knowing that by sharing their story, others would become educated, and maybe it would make a difference in somebody’s life.
“Moving through tragedy and pain can be lessened when some good can come from it,” she said. “I am simply sharing my knowledge and my experience – and it might just save someone life.”
More information, including online donation venues for those who cannot attend the event, is available at HOPE and Repair - Tim Cretsinger Benefit on facebook.
UPDATE (added 1/23/2014 at 10:54 a.m.): The musicians performing at The Grind Coffee House and Cafe are both individual artists and a band.
"We go by Wilhelm," said musician Heather Wilhem. "We will be playing all together for a little over an hour, and Mason and Ryan will continue to perform without me after that."
Their show will start at 9 a.m. when the coffee house opens.