Denver Actors Fund in Action: Justin Peterson

Trumpet player: Two surgeries, two casts, two massive bills

Aid recipient: Justin Peterson is a trumpet player currently performing in the orchestra for Sasquatch Productions’ “Matilda,” through February 9 at the PACE Center. Over the past year two years, Justin also has played in musicals for BDT Stage, Inspire Creative, Vintage Theatre Company, Aurora Fox, Equinox Theatre, Stage Door Theatre Company and Longmont Theatre Company, with titles including “Newsies,” “Motones vs. Jerseys,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Full Monty,” “The Addams Family,” “Tuck Everlasting” and “The Little Mermaid.” By day, Justin is a site technician for the Aurora Public Schools. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Trumpet Performance from Denver University. He’s also a member of the local rock band One Way Ride and the Latin jazz group The Pino Project.

JUSTIN PETERSONHis medical story: Last June, Justin ruptured his Achilles Tendon, which required surgical repair. A few months later, he was in a serious car accident, which required surgery for a broken left wrist. The financial fallout included damage to his car and the musical instruments he was transporting at the time. Combined, Justin was billed for $6,403.99 in out-of-pocket medical expenses. He incurred additional non-medical expenses ranging from car-rental fees to repair of his musical instruments.

How we have helped: The Denver Actors Fund Board of Directors voted unanimously to pay off the whole of Justin’s out-of-pocket medical expenses, or $6,403.99. To date, including targeted donations from the community, The Denver Actors Fund has now made $6,433.99 available to Justin for his medical expenses.

How you can help us help Justin more: In addition to his non-medical expenses, Justin has been told to expect up to $2,000 in additional medical bills to come in over the next few months. So even though we have paid the maximum we are legally allowed to date (because we are incorporated as a medical relief organization), Justin is not fully out of the hole. If you would like to direct a specific donation to help give Justin some additional breathing room to pay off his other expenses, simply mail checks in any amount made out to The Denver Actors Fund (with Justin Peterson’s name written in the topic field), to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO 80211. Or use this donation link. If you use the online option, be sure to designate that your donation is targeted for Justin Peterson. (He will receive 100 percent of your donation.) Otherwise, your donation will be applied to the replenishment of The Denver Actors Fund’s general fund.

A message from Justin:

“The only way I can explain the year 2019 is with one word: Humbling. I started the year with no major medical issues in my life: No broken bones, no surgeries and I had never worn a cast. But 2019 had some surprises in store for me. Both medical incidents required surgical repair, casting and physical therapy among a whole slew of new experiences.

Maybe it was pride, or stubbornness, but I attempted to tackle the financial burden myself. It seemed every few days as I progressed through recovery, there was a new medical bill, some new unanticipated expense or some balance owed after insurance was applied. Any time the phone rang or I would check the mail, I would take a deep breath expecting yet another bill due. I kept telling myself, “This too will pass; keep your head down and keep at it.” Days after ringing in 2020, I received yet another large medical bill, and I knew I needed help.

There are not strong enough words to convey what The Denver Actors Fund has done for me. When I was told the extent to which The Denver Actors Fund was going to help, I was left speechless and, soon after, in tears. In that moment, I could feel an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders and an immense sense of relief. The Denver Actors Fund has CHANGED MY LIFE! There is no way around the fact that without this assistance, I honestly don’t know how long it would have taken to pay these medical bills.

To The Denver Actors Fund Board of Directors and to everyone who has contributed to The Denver Actors Fund, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I am astonished, humbled and so tremendously blessed to have received this assistance. I’m not sure I can every repay such kindness and generosity to an extent that could adequately convey how much this means to me.

Over the past month, I couldn’t stop worrying and thinking about everything I could lose … but now I can’t stop being in awe of the people, blessings and love in my life. A drastic change in perspective that should remind us all that life is always best when we live it together.

Again I say, thank you to The Denver Actors Fund and thank you to the Colorado community for supporting the arts in so many ways!”

The Denver Actors Fund now has made more than $438,000 available to Colorado artists in medical need.

How you can help us help us help more Colorado theatre artists: If you would like to make a donation to The Denver Actors Fund, simply mail checks in any amount made out to Denver Actors Fund to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO 80212. Or use this donation link, with our humble thanks.

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 their story told.


Justin Peterson, standing second from the left, with the orchestra from Parker Arts and Inspire Theater Company’s ‘Newsies.’


The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. In addition to $438,000 in financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers have offered good neighborly assistance to more than 100 beneficiaries including meal prep and delivery, child care, transportation, errands, construction, pet-sitting and more. For more information, visit our web site at DenverActorsFund.Org.


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

Hippo Health LogoGET INSTANT, FREE MEDICAL ADVICE: The Denver Actors Fund has launch of a major new FREE medical service for qualified Colorado theatre artists: We are partnering with Hippo Health to provide access to emergency medical evaluations via video conferencing with a Board-certified physician. Click to read more about this wonderful, innovative new partnership that will further improve the lives of artists!



Go to our online giving site at: ColoradoGives.Org


Send checks made out to The Denver Actors Fund to:
P.O. Box 11182
Denver, CO 80211


Ever thought about taking a more active role in The Denver Actors Fund? Click here for more information


Sign up for King Soopers’ Community Rewards Program and raise money for The DAF just by shopping for your groceries – and it doesn’t cost you an extra penny. It’s like the Amazon Smile Program. To sign up, simply go here and designate The DAF as your preferred non-profit. Each quarter, King Soopers sends us a donation based on how much our supporters have spent. Thanks to all of you who are shopping for The DAF!


Alamo Hollywood's Biggest Night 2020

HOLLYWOOD’S BIGGEST NIGHT: Sunday, February 9, is the biggest night for the movies! What better way to be a part of the action on the big screen than to join Denver7 at the Alamo Drafthouse Westminster? This year’s host is beloved local actor Steven Burge … and friends (!). Dress your Hollywood best (formal evening wear suggested but not at all required!) Arrive around 5 p.m. in Pandora’s Box for your very own red carpet, paparazzi, and more before we open the doors for food, drinks and fun for everyone. Tickets are just $15 this year and ALL proceeds benefit The Denver Actors Fund! What’s The Denver Actors Fund? Well, Chris Hemsworth may have made $76 million to play Thor in “Avengers: Endgame,” but closer to home, Colorado stage actors often get paid tiny stipends to perform in plays and musicals at local theatres. They often sustain themselves by working a hodgepodge of flexible but low-paying jobs without health insurance. The Denver Actors Fund is a safety net for when Colorado theatre artists (on or off-stage) need help to pay for unexpected medical expenses. In six years, the Denver Actors Fund has made $435,000 available to help artists pay their medical bills or purchase wheelchairs, hearing aids and other essential medical supplies. In addition, an army of volunteers provides neighborly assistance ranging from rides to meals to snow-shoveling and personal company. Reserve your preferred seats today.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17: The Cherry Creek Theatre Company has announced that its Industry Night performance of “My Way – A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” will be a benefit for The Denver Actors Fund. Let the music of Frank Sinatra transport you back in time to a swanky nightclub on the Las Vegas strip. Experience more than 50 quintessential hits from the Ol’ Blue Eyes collection. From The Lady is a Tramp to New York, New York, you can’t help but hum along with your favorite jazz standards on this trip down memory lane. Pack up, let’s fly away and fall in love all over again with the music of one of the most celebrated recording artists of all time. The director is Susie Snodgrass, with musical direction from David Nehls. The cast includes Sheryl McCallum, Stephen Day, Shannon Steele and Jeremy Rill. Tickets (normally $33) are $20. At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or

SUNDAY, APRIL 26: True story: A few months ago, the local band Gin & Tonix did a show at the Clocktower to benefit the DAF, and I wasn’t sure I could make it so I didn’t book in advance. I dropped in just before the show began to buy a ticket at the door, and the woman looked at me like I was trying to walk in on Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, BTS, Shawn Mendes and the Wu-Tang Clan all at once. The look on her face was priceless. The event was was way sold out. “Gin & Tonix sells out every time,” she said. Point taken. So who is Gin & Tonix? A group of talented musician friends and family who have made music together on and off for many years. The band features vocal the harmonies of Morgan Griego, Kacie Thomas, Trinity Thomas, and Eileen Adair, by Madi Spillman on guitar, Ian Spillman on drums and vocals, and Jason Spillman on bass and vocals. The group plays songs by artists ranging from The Indigo Girls, The Eagles, The Avett Brothers and many more. The band will again be donating 10 percent of ticket sales for The Denver Actors Fund and taking a collection as a tribute to the late Amy Malmgren – an original DAF board member, and Jason Spillman’s sister. last time the total was a lucky $777. Gin and Tonix is as passionate about their community and family as they are about their music, which is touching. Now take the advice that is splased across the Clocktower’s web page: BOOK EARLY! GIN & TONIX *WILL SELL OUT IN ADVANCE!* Get your tickets here.


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

Categorized as News

By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at