Using their talents for hilarious, family-friendly improvisational comedy, Jef and Shurlin Rawls of Mesa hope to lift spirits while lightening the load for a family in their neighborhood with an event they are calling a “FUN-draiser.”
Their concern was for 4-year-old Grant Lindman of Mesa and his family. On Sunday, February 24, Grant had complained about a pain in his chest. His parents, Abe and Kristen Lindman wondered if their son may have a broken rib.
Grant ultimately was sent to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and, after hours, which turned into days, of biopsies, scans and tests, Grant was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects mainly children and adolescents.
“When we heard about what was going on, and we knew how many people wanted to help, we immediately starting trying to figure out how we could contribute,” Shurlin said.
The mass the doctors found was quite large, extending from the bottom of Grant’s chest cavity to his collarbone and was compromising one lung and threatening his airway. Because they were concerned about Grant’s airway,he remained in the intensive care unit for five days.
Miraculously, some things worked in Grant’s favor. Though one lung and his airway were compromised, he was able to breathe sufficiently; and, while the mass of the tumor had displaced his heart, spine, and other organs by several inches, his heart function was normal and no other structures were involved.
Still Grant’s situation was grave, and the questions, as well as the costs, were starting to mount.
The Rawls hit upon an idea to help. The Rawls are the owners of Jester’Z Improv Comedy, which, since 2001, has performed more than 2,500 shows. Its trademark is clean, family-friendly humor, which the troupe performs at its own Scottsdale venue, Theater 168, and at corporate and community events Valley-wide.
“I have wondered how Jester’Z could do more to give back,” Shurlin said. “We have donated to a lot of things, but I wondered how we could do something on our own to really help families who were going through hard times.”
The perfect way to put that passion into practice seemed to be a “FUN-draiser” — a night of improv comedy and a live auction, with all proceeds going toward Grant’s surgeries and chemotherapy.
The “FUN-draiser” is scheduled for Monday, May 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Stapley Junior High, 3250 E. Hermosa Vista Dr., in Mesa. Dancers from Studio C, including Grant’s sister, Ava, and some of his classmates, will perform a couple of numbers. The Jester’Z Improv Comedy Troupe will then take the stage for approximately 75 minutes.
“Although this is a very serious situation, and is no laughing matter — life is meant to be cherished and enjoyed,” Shurlin said.
The Lindmans greatly appreciate the fact that the Jester’Z owners and other friends have come together to host this event.
“This is a great blessing and expression of kindness,” Abe Lindman said, adding that, while they are facing a very uncertain future, they are “hopeful” and “grateful.”
He said Grant is nearing the end of 12 weeks of chemotherapy and, toward the end of May, doctors will do the necessary imaging and prepare for surgery.
“It will be a pretty serious kind of surgery,” Abe said, “but the oncologists are very optimistic.”
Following surgery, chemotherapy will continue for six months.
The Lindmans say the support and help they have received from neighbors and friends has been impressive.
“We’ve just been thrilled and grateful to friends and family for their prayers and everything they’ve done—and now for this fundraiser. I’m really at a loss for words,”Abe said.
To pre-purchase tickets for $10 to the Monday event, contact Shurlin Rawls at (480) 962-9262. Seating is limited to 450 guests.
For more information or to make a donation, visit the “FUN-draiser” Facebook page at facebook.com/grantsFUNdraiser. Additional donations to Grant Lindman’s care can be taken to any Wells Fargo branch. For information about his progress,visit his Caring Bridge page at caringbridge.org/visit/grantlindman.
More details on Jester’Z Improv Comedy can be found at jesterzimprov.com.