Denver Actors Fund in Action: Don Gabenski

Financial-aid recipient: Don Gabenski has been performing for 15 years with Phamaly Theatre Company, which exists to provide performance opportunities to actors with disabilities, and more recently Spoke N Motion, Denver’s only fully integrated dance company. Phamaly highlights have included playing the patriarch Jacob in “Joseph and Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” The Wiz,” “Guys and Dolls,” and going “half-monty” as a Kit Kat Boy in “Cabaret.” But he’s always had the most fun performing in Phamaly’s annual “Vox” series of original sketch comedies that don’t shy from the personal — or the political. One year Gabenski, who has cerebral palsy, wrote and performed a memorable satiric parody he called “Medicaid Pie” to the tune of “American Pie,” making the blunt assertion that the more you work, the less qualified you are for Medicaid. Until recently, Don also has worked as the longtime receptionist at the Denver Center’s Newman Center for Theatre Education.

His medical story: When you are a permanently disabled person, your life revolves around two wheelchairs — one a primary, and the other an essential backup. But when you are always in one chair or the other, and you rely on them to get around in all kinds of conditions, they break down. A lot. And unlike when your car blows a gasket and you can pull into a service station for a relatively immediate repair, a person on Medicare needs a doctor’s approval to take his wheelchair in for service — a process that can leave a disabled person without a chair for weeks. Don explains his situation this way: “As a physically disabled actor and dancer in the Denver community, my power wheelchair serves as my life. My chair gives me the ability to go out into the community and entertain people. Over the past couple of years, I have had almost continuous mechanical issues with my chair, which has forced me into a wheelchair that has outlived its usefulness after 10 years of almost continuous service. Most recently, I had to use that chair just to perform in “Annie,” and I was almost forced to leave the production because of a serious mechanical issue.”

In 2009, Don Gabenski played a dealer who offers Alice a little help down the rabbit hole in a comic sketch about the disabled in “Vox Phamalia: Re-Dux.”

How we have helped: We have provided Gabenski with $3,529 for the full purchase of a new wheelchair. And it’s a bargain, with a list price of $5,099, Bonus: This will be the chair Don now uses for rehearsals and performances with Spoke N Motion. So it will be used not only for practical, everyday purposes — but also for the making of art!

How you can help us help Gabenski more: Even with this boost, Gabenski is in for a tough financial year. His projected income for 2018 is only $15,480. If you would like to direct a specific, additional donation to Don — just because — simply mail checks made out to The Denver Actors Fund (with Don Gabenski’s name in the topic field) to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO, 80212. Or use this donation link. If you use the online option, be sure to designate that your donation is targeted for Don Gabenski. Otherwise, your donation will be applied to the replenishment of the Denver Actors Fund’s general fund.

A message from Don: “Because of the love and support of the many wonderful people in my life, and the unending generosity of The Denver Actors Fund, my worries are now over.  With the purchase of my new power wheelchair, I will be able to continue to do what I love most.  I can continue to entertain people and put smiles on faces for years to come. I cannot properly close without expressing my undying love and gratitude to The Denver Actors Fund, Suzanne Yoe and Anita Edwards for their love and support; DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden for her brilliant idea; Steve Wilson, Regan Linton, Paul Behrhorst, Jenna Bainbridge, Debbie Stark and Ronni Gallup for believing in me and my abilities for 15 wonderful years at Phamaly;  Erin Ramsey Breitenbach, Matt Wagner, Jim Berman and the awesome technical crew at the DCPA; Clint Flinchpaugh, Mike Kimbrough, Dwight Barela and the DCPA engineering staff for keeping me and my chair running non-stop for so long. Last, but certainly not least, thank you Teri Westerman Wagner for creating such a wonderful company in Spoke N Motion that  gives anybody the chance to go out and touch people’s lives. Thank you for your love and friendship, and for teaching me that if you believe in something strongly enough, that anything is possible.”

Read testimonials from other Denver Actors Fund beneficiaries here

Note: At the Denver Actors Fund, anonymity of aid recipients is presumed and fully protected, unless and until the recipient chooses to have his or her story told.

SCHEDULE YOUR COLORADO GIVES DAY DONATION NOW


HOW YOU CAN HELP US REPLENISH:

To DONATE the Denver Actors Fund, please CLICK HERE (with our humble thanks)


ABOUT THE DENVER ACTORS FUND:


Video above: The Denver Actors Fund receives the Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2016 Community Impact Award.

The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. To date, the Fund has allocated more than $200,000 to artists facing medical need. In addition to financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers offers good neighborly assistance including meal prep and delivery, child care, transportation, errands, construction, pet-sitting and more. For more information, visit our web site at DenverActorsFund.Org.


HOW TO APPLY FOR AID:

To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid: Fill out this brief online form here


MORE WAYS TO HELP:

DONATE BY MAIL:

Send checks made out to the Denver Actors Fund to:
P.O. Box 11182
Denver, CO 80212

ATTEND UPCOMING DENVER ACTORS FUND EVENTS:

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES:
Tuesday, Dec. 19: The Nightly Met Christmas Special at the D.L. Parsons Theatre in Northglenn, hosted by Avery Anderson and Annie Dwyer, featuring Anna High, and Ryan Chrys and Rough Cuts. Tickets $8-$10. All proceeds go to The Denver Actors Fund. BUY TICKETS

Monday, Jan. 22: Denver Actors Fund Monthly Film Series Presents … “500 Days of Summer” at the Alamo Drafthouse Slaon’s Lake, with live entertainment from cast members from DCPA Cabaret’s “First Date.” Half of all ticket proceeds benefit the Denver Actors Fund. BUY TICKETS

Monday, Feb, 18: Denver Actors Fund Monthly Film Series Presents … “Dumb and Dumber at the Alamo Drafthouse Slaon’s Lake, with live entertainment from Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s world-premiere comedy musical. “Totally Awesome ’80s Ski Town USA.” Half of all ticket proceeds benefit the Denver Actors Fund. Save the date. Tickets not yet on-sale.

VISIT OUR ONLINE MERCH STORE:

Click here to see how you can buy DAF products such as T-shirts, key chains, puzzles and much more

Denver Actors Fund in Action: Nancy Warner

Financial-aid recipient: Nancy Warner has been a dresser, backstage crew member and faithful volunteer for Phamaly Theatre Company for many years, most recently as a show-runner for Phamaly’s “Vox Phamilia: Under Construction” at the Community College of Aurora. For nearly 30 years, Phamly has existed to provide performance and backstage opportunities for people with disabilities. Nancy is a graduate of Cherry Creek High School and Regis University. Her family’s bloodlines in the Colorado theatre community go back 30 years to the days of the Original Scene downtown and, since, the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center and Magic Moments.

Her medical story: Nancy has been in a world of hurt for the past year or so, including an emergency hysterectomy, an emergency appendectomy and a pinched nerve in her leg that left her unable to perform her job as a child-care provider for four months, requiring ongoing specialized treatment to make structural changes and enhance nervous-system function.”

How we have helped: Even after insurance, Warner has paid more than $5,000 out of pocket to work down her medical bills, but her continuing series of setbacks has only left her in a growing hole. She currently still owes Rose Medical Center and various specialists $5,110 in outstanding medical and chiropractor bills. The Denver Actors Fund Board has examined her breakdown of expenses and has unanimously voted to off-set the 3,832 Warner owes for hospital (non-chiropractic) bills. Including targeted donations from the public, the DAF has made a total of $3,932 available to Nancy.

How you can help us help Nancy more: Even with this boost, Nancy is committed to continuing her long-term, specialized treatment plan for the pinched nerve with a chiropractic specialist. She is currently $1,278 behind on those payments. If you would like to direct a specific, additional donation to Nancy, simply mail checks made out to The Denver Actors Fund (with Nancy Warner’s name in the topic field) to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO, 80212. Or use this donation link. If you use the online option, be sure to designate that your donation is targeted for Nancy Warner. Otherwise, your donation will be applied to the replenishment of the Denver Actors Fund’s general fund.

A message from Nancy: “When I applied to the Denver Actors Fund for financial help, I wasn’t sure what to expect, or even if they could help me with my medical bills. I am a very private person and don’t easily ask for help unless I really need it. I have been unemployed for the past four months, the bills were piling up, and I was drowning in debt. I didn’t know where else to turn. I was fortunate to have Christmas come early when I was told I would receive a grant to pay down my medical bills. I honestly don’t know what I would do without people like K.Q., Annie Dwyer, Paul Dwyer, Ruby Hershberger, Sharon McClaury, Mark Dissette, Leonard Barrett, Amber Marsh, Rob Costigan and so many others in my life. These people have been there for me in my most difficult times, and have welcomed me with open arms. That’s what I love most about theater: It doesn’t matter if you are in the audience or part of the cast or crew — you are part of a family (or Phamaly!), and they have got your back. They have had mine. I am so thankful that The Denver Actors Fund exists to help people when they need it the most. And although I can’t pay it back now, I will pay it forward in the future. I can’t thank the DAF enough for helping me and so many others.

Read testimonials from other Denver Actors Fund beneficiaries here

Note: At the Denver Actors Fund, anonymity of aid recipients is presumed and fully protected, unless and until the recipient chooses to have his or her story told.

SCHEDULE YOUR COLORADO GIVES DAY DONATION NOW


HOW YOU CAN HELP US REPLENISH:

To DONATE the Denver Actors Fund, please CLICK HERE (with our humble thanks)


ABOUT THE DENVER ACTORS FUND:


Video above: The Denver Actors Fund receives the Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2016 Community Impact Award.

The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. To date, the Fund has allocated more than $200,000 to artists facing medical need. In addition to financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers offers good neighborly assistance including meal prep and delivery, child care, transportation, errands, construction, pet-sitting and more. For more information, visit our web site at DenverActorsFund.Org.


HOW TO APPLY FOR AID:

To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid: Fill out this brief online form here


MORE WAYS TO HELP:

DONATE BY MAIL:

Send checks made out to the Denver Actors Fund to:
P.O. Box 11182
Denver, CO 80212

ATTEND UPCOMING DENVER ACTORS FUND EVENTS:

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES:
Monday, Dec. 18: Firehouse Theatre Comany will donate all proceeds from its industry-night performance of “The Miracle Worker” to the family of late actor Daniel Langhoff, who previously appeared in Fiirehouse’s The Crucible. Audio description will be provided for visually impaired patrons. All tickets are $15 for this performance only. 7:30 p.m. at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com. (Photo above by Christine Fisk.)
Tuesday, Dec. 19: The Nightly Met Christmas Special at the D.L. Parsons Theatre in Northglenn, hosted by Avery Anderson and Annie Dwyer, featuring Anna High, and Ryan Chrys and Rough Cuts. Tickets $8-$10. All proceeds go to The Denver Actors Fund. BUY TICKETS

 

VISIT OUR ONLINE MERCH STORE:

Click here to see how you can buy DAF products such as T-shirts, key chains, puzzles and much more