UPDATE: As of 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, Shelly Bordas’ online fundraising page has raised $12,635 from 251 backers.
By John Moore
Feb. 13, 2013
Just 24 hours after the launch of an online fundraising page, friends and strangers have contributed more than $10,400 to help send Denver actor and teacher Shelly Bordas on a Disney cruise with her 3 1/2-year-old son, Nathan. And that doesn’t count checks that also may have been sent by mail.
Bordas, who has battled breast cancer since her pregnancy, was given a terminal diagnosis last week. “They can’t tell you that I am going to make it to next weekend. They can’t tell you that I am going to make a year,” she said. “But I am going to try.”
Bordas had been told in November that her tumors were shrinking, so she celebrated by auditioning for her first musical since her ordeal began in 2009 — landing the role of the drunk secretary in the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center’s “9 to 5,” opening Feb. 22.
But Bordas soon began to lose vision, which led doctors to discover the cancer had spread to her brain. Four tumors were affecting her vision and motor coordination. A new round of daily chemo was begun. Bordas had to be admitted to the hospital on Jan. 29 when her body completely immobilized. “Paralyzed, and literally turning to stone,” she said.
Turns out the port that was aiding in her chemotherapy (her fourth) was infected. That triggered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, which is a bacteria-filled blood clot in the lung. She then had port-removal surgery, her 15th surgery since her initial cancer diagnosis, and is now being given a round-the-clock barrage of antibiotics to fight the infection.
It was during that hospital stay that doctors gave Bordas the grim news that her remaining time is limited. She bade an emotional goodbye to her “9 to 5” castmates on Saturday, saying that her primary goal now is time with her son, notably taking him on a Disney cruise. “When it comes right down to it, it’s about time,” she said of her decision. “Near death brings you new goals.”
The theater community has responded. So too have many people who have never met her. The initial word of Shelly’s situation urged supporters to send checks addressed to Shelly Bordas to the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Littleton, CO, 80120.
Then, on Tuesday night, friend Sarah Roshan set up an account on the web site gogetfunding.com. And, as of 11 p.m. tonight (Feb. 13), 202 donors had pledged $10,400. “I am feeling good and thankful for this amazing community,” Roshan said.
The goal for the campaign has been increased to $15,000, for several reasons. Shelly will require up to four attendants to accompany her on any cruise (which she hopes to take in late March or early April). And the cruise is just one of many, many expenses she faces. Friends would also like to start a college fund for her son.
Bordas has not given up the fight. She has just started yet another new round of chemo. “What that is doing is buying me time,” she said. She has been overwhelmed by the response from the community. But she is having difficulty processing it all. Kelly Kates, her “9 to 5” choreographer, has taken on the role of trying to coordinate various efforts to help Bordas. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the other ways in which people are helping:
*Voodoo Comedy Playhouse is donating all proceeds from its three shows on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to Shelly Bordas. The three scheduled “Voodoo Comedy Showcase” shows that night are “Humorous Harlots,” “Jump! Improv” and “Skintight Outrage.” Admission is $5 (but feel free to pay more). Voodoo is located at 1260 22nd St. in LoDo. This benefit is orgainzed by Kevin Lowry and Jessica Austgen.
*Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, owns a salon in the Highlands neighborhood. As soon as she heard about Bordas’ fight, she announced a cut-a-thon, with all proceeds to benefit Bordas. Everson will have six stylists at the ready from 4-6:30 p.m. on March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594. That was facilitated by Susan Lyles of And Toto Too Theatre Company.
*The mother of late actor Doug Rosen, a dear friend of Bordas’ who died on Sept. 5, 2009, has said she wants the balance of the fund his friends created to aid in Rosen’s own medical battle be transferred to Bordas. Rosen died before he could take full advantage of his friends’ generosity. That’s about $2,000 that will now go to Bordas.
*The Town Hall Arts Center has announced a “pay what you can” performance of “9 to 5” on Monday, March 4, with all funds going to Bordas. Call 303-794-2787 for reservations.
*Well-known area musical director Mitch Samu is planning a community-wide benefit concert to benefit Bordas. More details to come.
Bonus coverage: Listen to my very funny “Running Lines” podcast episode with Shelly when she was appearing in Theatre Group’s 2006 production of “Debbie Does Dallas.” She played Lisa and was also the musical’s “cheerographer.”
Note: I am preparing a video documentary on Shelly’s journey. When it is completed, you will see it here.