Fundraiser helps pay for medical bills

Photo By: Whitney Young
Tami Flanery talks to a friend during the Anything for a Friend Fundraiser. The fundraiser was held to raise money for Flanery’s cancer treatment.

On Saturday, the Anything for a Friend Foundation hosted a fundraiser for Tami Flanery. The foundation host fundraisers for people with illnesses who are having problems paying their medical bills.

Flanery has a cancer that cannot be treated in Utah. Instead, she goes to Boston for treatment.

“She felt a connection immediately with the doctor,” said Shawna Lunak, Flanery’s friend of 30 years.

Flanery has been in Boston since May of this year and came back to Utah for the fundraiser.

“We would do anything for her,” Lunak said. “We used to get together every month. We were having Tami withdrawals.”

Flanery will stay in Utah until November, when she will need to return to Boston for a checkup.

The event raised money through a live auction, with items such as a golf package with personal training and a trip to St. George with a resort stay. There was also a silent auction for gift baskets with items from the community, a raffle and a bake sale. One hundred percent of the money went to Flanery.

Anything for a Friend was first started in January of 2010 to raise money for Becky Anderson, who now runs the organization. Anderson had Stage 3 breast cancer, and her tumor was inoperable.

“The people who were the very closest to me were really nervous about everything and didn’t want to just be in that, so they got active, and this is the result of my loved ones getting active,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s sister, a WSU student, organized the first fundraiser. Anderson said she hated being a recipient until she saw the Anything for a Friend website.

“I realized, maybe for the first time since I got that fateful call about the cancer, that this was so much bigger than me,” Anderson said.

Now, after 16 weeks of chemotherapy, Anderson’s cancer is gone.

To be eligible for one of these events, one must submit an application for the person in need on the Anything for a Friend website. He or she must also submit letters from doctors and letters of recommendation.

When a person is chosen for an Anything for a Friend foundation, a committee is formed of the person’s loved ones. They then go out into the community and collect donations for the auctions.

“This is the result of hearts in action and their hands and feet matching what their heart has been saying, and it’s a truly touching thing,” Anderson said.

Since the foundation was started, $600,000 has been raised, not including the money raised for Flanery.

“I volunteer as much as possible,” said Kelby Maughan, who volunteered for Saturday’s event. Maughan said he volunteers for Anything for a Friend because his brother had an event hosted for him. It raised money to pay his medical bills for his muscular dystrophy.

At the end of the event, everyone circled around Flanery, and five balloons were released into the sky to symbolize each member of Flanery’s immediate family. Anderson said it symbolized hope, love and support.

“It’s a place for hurting hearts to come to express their love and concern for someone who is hurting,” Anderson said.