Fundraiser benefits Q.C. conjoined twins - East Valley Tribune: News

Fundraiser benefits Q.C. conjoined twins

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Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 4:20 pm | Updated: 1:56 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Umbrellas dotted with signatures from the likes of Hugh Jackman, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon lined the lobby of Mesa's Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre this week.

Conjoined twins face heart separation

"There's more umbrellas coming in now," actor Gary Kimble said as he paused during a tour of the lobby to wave to a FedEx delivery man walking through the theater doors.

What started as a charity umbrella auction in conjunction with the theater's production of "Singin' in the Rain" turned into a national fundraising effort to benefit Emma and Taylor Bailey, 2-year-old conjoined twins who live in the Queen Creek area.

The girls, who are attached at the chest, share a heart and liver. Emma's side of the heart is failing, meaning the girls must go through several operations to separate them to assure they'll survive.

Mandy Bailey, the twins' mother, couldn't be reached on Monday or Tuesday but previously said the family was waiting on final tests to make sure the girls are eligible for the process.

The Baileys started a foundation called "Two Sisters, One Heart" to cover their medical expenses and to help other families in similar situations. Their first fundraiser was a race and fun run held on Valentine's Day.

That's the same day the dinner theater officially started its One Heart Umbrella Campaign for the girls, said Kimble, who is serving as the event director.

The original intent was a fundraiser with a "Singin' in the Rain" theme - get a few umbrellas signed by local celebrities, auction them off and give the proceeds to some local charities, Kimble said.

But when theater employees came across the Baileys' story, they decided to donate solely to the family's cause.

Kimble has several celebrity connections, having acted for many years. He knew he could get umbrellas from the "Today Show," especially since they had done a piece on the Baileys, and Kathie Lee Gifford.

He wasn't expecting things to keep snowballing.

"I've seen the fingerprint of God in every bit of this," he said.

Debbie Reynolds, one of the stars of the movie "Singin' in the Rain," offered to help. She donated an umbrella and will serve as honorary chairwoman for a gala for the girls on Saturday .

Umbrellas keep pouring in, including a black golf umbrella signed by Alice Cooper, others with quotes and signatures from actors William H. Macy and Geoffrey Rush, and several from Broadway shows, including signatures from the cast of "Mary Poppins" on a replica of the nanny's famous umbrella.

The effort got another boost when Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner invited the charity to the floor of the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night in Phoenix last weekend. Attendees including Michael Phelps, Reba McIntyre and Forest Whitaker signed umbrellas.

A few umbrellas will be auctioned at Saturday's event, which will include a cocktail hour, silent auction, dinner and a show.

Most umbrellas will be sold on eBay. The first batch has already been posted, with a green and black entry signed by Australian star Hugh Jackman attracting the most bids as of Tuesday.

But it hasn't just been celebrities - all kinds of community groups have made offers, Kimble said.

Residents of three RV parks in Mesa pooled their change jars and contributed $1,300. Several churches have called or stopped by to say their congregations are taking up collections for the twins.

A local musician has composed a song for the girls and is selling it at www.everyonehasaheart.com for a $1 donation.

Kimble thinks all of the support that has rallied around the Baileys is incredible. He's gotten to know Emma and Taylor since starting the effort and is impressed by the girls' personalities and spirits.

"They're just so dear. It breaks your heart. We can't let these girls die," Kimble said. "In my mind, they're angels here teaching us how to love."

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