Theme-party to raise money for local artist

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2008

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Courtesy Of Thea Howard
Courtesy Of Thea Howard

What: Live music, Cajun food, silent and regular auctions to help Juneau artist John Stoll with his medical bills.

When: 6-10 p.m. Jan. 25.

Where: Hangar Ballroom.

Admission: Donations accepted.

John Stoll has battled cancer for eight years. He's undergone surgery, chemotherapy, and many other invasive operations. But on Jan. 25 in the Hangar Ballroom, he'll receive a different kind of treatment to help with his illness: live music, Cajun food, a silent and outcry auction, and a Mardis Gras theme-party fundraiser, all rolled into one event.

"You really go into the hole," Stoll said. "Imagine going down to Seattle three times a year, renting a car, four nights stay in a hotel and treatments; it really puts a tax on your bank account."

The idea of the fundraiser came from Bartlett Hospital Infusionist Tamara Simone-Collins. She suggested the idea due to the extraordinary cost of the treatments for the three different cancers that affect Stoll. However, it was Stoll's daughter, Thea Howard, who spearheaded the initiative.

"My parents aren't really ones to ask for help, but I felt that this would help lift some burden off of the family," she said. "Everything involved in the entire thing has been great, especially my dad."

Howard, an educator turned party planner, said that this is the first big party she's ever organized.

"There has been this great outpouring of help from the community," she said. "We've had tons of things donated. The arts community donated all this great artwork, local businesses have given great stuff, too.

"But the biggest contribution that Juneau's made is people who just want to help out," she added. "I have two people who just want to clean up after the party, and that's pretty amazing. Everybody we know in Juneau is helping out"

The only person who doesn't seem to be helping out with the planning is the guest of honor himself.

"I've been instructed to stay out of it," Stoll said. "Except for the poster, of course."

Stoll designed the poster himself, which is based on an old west wanted poster with Stoll's face printed on it. Stoll said he can still hold a paintbrush and that cancer hasn't beaten his want or will to paint, although he does have to sit down while he paints. He insists that all who come to this party sign his poster.

"I figure it would be a good memory; I'll probably have it framed to remind me of a great night," Stoll said. "I just want the night to be fun, as long as it's a party."

Stoll's daughter said that in all the treatments that her father has undertaken, he has never complained once.

"Sure, he has side effects, and they do affect him. Chemotherapy is putting poison in your body. It seems like every time he goes down to Seattle to see the oncologist, another thing gets piled onto him," Howard said. "But, he just goes right on with whatever he's doing. It's really amazing to see that strength in a person."

Stoll echoes his daughter's sentiments.

"I don't have time to be pissing and moaning, there's things I gotta do. I paint because I need to, and I fly fish because I want to, and I'm looking forward to the spring now to get out there and fish with my friends in Juneau," Stoll said.

Stoll and Howard said that Juneau's help in organizing this is extraordinary.

"It makes me thankful to be in a place like Juneau where everyone in the community helps out. It makes me really proud to live in a place like this," Howard said.

Stoll felt blessed that there was such an amazing outpour of love and support from the community.

"I'm grateful for all the people who will come to it, even if they don't know me, or don't want to donate or buy anything, just to come and be with us; that's really great. The food will be great; the live band will be great; the only thing I'm a little iffy on is the dancing," Stoll said.



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